Metro-North derailment demonstrates need for infrastructure investment, says LaHood

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 3.21.42 PMA commuter train in New York derailed Sunday, and former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pointing to the crash as an example of the need for investment in transportation infrastructure.

The southbound Metro-North train, which was carrying about 150 passengers, derailed in the Bronx around 7:20 a.m. on Sunday, killing four passengers and injuring 60 people, including the engineer, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview with NBC News’ “Morning Joe,” LaHood said the derailment demonstrates a lack of infrastructure investment in the U.S.

“The problem is we’re not first in infrastructure anymore,” LaHood said. “We’re 14th in the world, and at one time we were first in infrastructure.”

LaHood served as Secretary of Transportation from 2009 until his retirement in June of this year. Since then, he has continued to advocate for transportation investments.

“It’s going to be up to Congress, it’s going to be up to the Administration, it’s going to be up to the people to decide that they are sick and tired of driving on crumbling roads, driving on bad bridges — dangerous bridges — and riding on 50-year-old transit systems that are in very bad need of repair,” he added.

LaHood said that although the Department of Transportation receives funding for infrastructure, it isn’t enough. In 2009, the DOT received a $48 billion federal stimulus from the $800 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the money was to be used to fund transportation projects over two years.

“Rather than $48 billion it should have been $480 billion,” he said.

LaHood noted that, despite a lack of federal funding, some states have made investments when voters approved referendums that increase transportation funding and spending.

“In states where they have made the investments, they have good infrastructure,” he said.

He added that lawmakers in D.C. “are afraid to make these kind of investments.”

LaHood said “the message that needs to be delivered to Washington, D.C.” is that states are raising revenue for transportation investments because the people are voting for those referendums.

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“The people are way ahead of the politicians on this,” LaHood said. “They know that their roads are crumbling, and they know that their bridges are unsafe. They know their transit systems need new infrastructure.”

“We need the leadership of people to stand up and say we’ve got to make the investments and spend the money correctly, put friends and neighbors to work and make America number one in infrastructure again,” he said.