President Obama brings focus to highway bill during National Transportation Week

(Photo: Matt H. Wade / Wikipedia)(Photo: Matt H. Wade / Wikipedia)

The White House announced on Friday that May 11-17 is National Transportation Week and May 16 is National Defense Transportation Day.

The announcement comes as Infrastructure Week begins, bringing several conferences, roundtables, educational seminars and other infrastructure-related events to Washington, D.C.

Related: Infrastructure jobs can boost U.S. employment; highway funding push continues

The president notes the importance of transportation infrastructure.

“A sound transportation system allows businesses to safely move their goods to market, and maintaining that system creates jobs upgrading ports, unclogging commutes, and repairing roads and rails,” he writes. “During National Defense Transportation Day and National Transportation Week, we underscore the importance of infrastructure to our economy, security, and way of life.”

He also calls for a long-term transportation bill, noting the reauthorization proposal he unveiled earlier this year. The current highway bill, MAP-21, will expire September 30, though the Highway Trust Fund, which provides funding to most state and local transportation projects, is projected to run out of money at least a month before the measure expires.

“This summer, the Congress will need to protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills that provide at least 4 years of funding for extensive infrastructure repairs and investments,” Obama writes. “Because accessible roads, safe bridges, and good jobs should transcend politics, I am hopeful our representatives will do right by the American people.”

“Earlier this year, I launched a competition for $600 million in transportation grants,” he continues. “Cities and States can win this funding by creating plans that both modernize transportation infrastructure and stimulate the economy.”

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx presented Obama’s long-term proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, to Congress last month.