U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, made his morning
commute to New York City on the LaGuardia shuttle. "Not a bad way to
come," he told the ABNY crowd, before adding, "Train or shuttle. We’ve
done it both ways."
Here are a few notes from LaHood’s talk and my brief conversation with him afterward:
- NY1 gave prominent play to LaHood’s comment about New York City’s $354 million in congestion pricing money still being available
but, to be clear, this wasn’t a major point of his talk. It was
actually more of a side note in response to Council member Dan
Garodnick’s question about whether the Obama Administration would
continue the Urban Partnership program’s effort "to create the
incentives to move people out of their cars and onto transit."
Regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars that our geniuses up in Albany
rejected last year, LaHood said, "That money is still sitting around.
It’s on the table somewhere. I think it’s in our office still. We
offered it up to Chicago but like New York they couldn’t get their act together."
DOT is teaming up with former Bloomberg Administration all-star Shaun
Donovan at HUD to focus on transit-oriented affordable housing. LaHood
framed this project as going "hand in hand" with the Obama
Administration’s commitment to high-speed rail. Donovan, LaHood said,
is "one of the most innovative people in America; a very creative
- LaHood said almost nothing about the
upcoming federal transportation bill except that DOT is taking "a hard
look at how we fund transportation" and they want "to give cities like
New York more flexibility in how they spend Uncle Sam’s dollars."
you don’t really get the sense that LaHood lives and
transportation policy like, say, New York City’s Janette Sadik-Khan, a
lot of the right
words are coming out of his mouth these days. Yesterday’s
talk wasn’t limited to roads, bridges and zillion dollar mega-projects.
The Obama Administration, he said, is committed to a transportation
policy that will "enhance mobility, support a cleaner environment and
help make our communities more livable." LaHood is
clearly making the connection between transportation policy and urban
development. He said (and I’m condensing this a little bit): "What
we’re trying to do is take some of the resources we have on the
transit side and connect them with what Secretary Donovan wants to do.
We want to create livable
communities. Portland is really the model for it. We want to create
housing opportunities so that people can walk out their front doors and
go wherever they want to go without getting into an automobile. That’s
really the goal."
the talk I introduced myself and Streetsblog to LaHood and told him
that we’d like to sit down with him for a Q&A in Washington D.C.
some time soon. LaHood said that he had his own blog too, The Fast Lane. Had I seen it?
"Of course," I said. "Streetsblog readers are big fans. But what do you think about changing the name of your blog to The Fast Track?"
in the background, I think one of his staffers, laughed. LaHood stopped
walking and gave me what I took to be a who-is-this-insane-person kind
"We think Fast Lane works pretty
well," he said, and headed off to a medal ceremony for the ferry crew
members who rescued US Air Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last winter.
All I’m saying is think about it, Ray. Think about it.