LaHood: Expect major transportation infrastructure announcement from Obama

Ray LaHoodRay LaHood

Expect a major announcement on transportation infrastructure from President Obama.

That’s the word from outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

“Once we get past immigration, guns, the sequester, I think the President is going to be big and bold on transportation infrastructure. So I’m not going to steal his thunder. I think you’ll see him be big and bold later this year,” he said at the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Fly-in in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “And I think you’ll get behind him.”

LaHood also flatly said America needs a five-year bill, an implied criticism of the two-year MAP-21, something he hasn’t done before.

“We need a five-year bill, a $500 to $600 billion paid-for bill. Even that will just scratch the surface. The debate about the new bill will not be about what America needs–we know that–it will be about how we pay for it. We’re not going to find the money we need for transportation infrastructure in the Highway Trust Fund. The money is not there, at least not in its present form.”

Referring to the I-5 bridge that collapsed last month in Washington State, LaHood said, “That bridge didn’t just fall down because it was hit by a truck. It also fell down because it’s old and probably needed to be replaced.”

“America is not number one in infrastructure any more. We should be. We can get back,” he said.

“This year China will build 85 new airports. Eighty-five! Every time you go to China, what do you see? New roads, new bridges, new airports–why? Because they have a vision, because they have an addiction to infrastructure.”

With just a few more weeks left in office, LaHood, who was a long time Republican Member of Congress representing an Illinois district that includes Peoria, hometown of Caterpillar, said, “It goes without saying I love Caterpillar. I’m not supposed to say that. But in Peoria, where I have a home, every family has someone who works at Caterpillar. It’s a fabulous company.”