The United States is an increasingly mobile society. When it comes to our smartphones and other devices, most people are more connected, and at higher speeds, than ever before. But we are also seeing the effects of decades of under-investment in our transportation system on our roads, bridges, and public transit.
We recognize the impacts of a slow MBTA or Metro connection, or congested highway — wasted time, fuel, emissions, and money in moving products to market and the frustrating barrier between a hard-working parent and getting home for dinner on time.
For our nation to maximize its economic potential, reduce our environmental footprint, and ensure Americans’ safety and quality of life, we need modern, well-functioning infrastructure. And it is increasingly falling to governors and local leaders to act.
That’s why Massachusetts is hosting the National Governors Association’s Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit this week. We are bringing together experts from across the country and providing a forum for governors to share ideas and learn about promising transportation policy. It is the first event in the year-long NGA Chair’s Initiative, Infrastructure: Foundation for Success, where we hone in on a specific policy issue that affects every American.
The challenges before us are massive. Many cities are facing growing traffic congestion, and infrastructure shortcomings are dampening the country’s global competitiveness and draining trillions of dollars from the economy.
Transportation has traditionally been a federal-state-local partnership, but as our nation’s capital has descended into gridlock, so have our underfunded roadways. By 2016, direct federal infrastructure funding fell to less than 0.1 percent of GDP, while state and local spending neared 1.4 percent.
Governors from both parties recognize that until we can secure greater cooperation in Washington, D.C., states must bridge the gap — and we are.
For example, Maryland has advanced two of the world’s largest public-private partnerships to connect suburban Metro stations and get traffic moving again along the Capital Beltway. The state’s transit investment is historic at $14 billion during the Hogan administration, including $150 million in innovative traffic congestion solutions, smart technology, and cutting-edge smart signalization networks.
For local residents, who suffer the nation’s second-worst traffic congestion and the second-longest commute times, these projects will provide long-overdue transportation relief.
In Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito administration has proposed an $18 billion transportation bond bill to further investments in public transit, cut red tape around project delivery, and reduce congestion on the Commonwealth’s roads. At the direction of the administration, the T is in the midst of implementing an $8 billion infrastructure investment plan and MassDOT is leading a $7 billion plan to invest in roads and bridges.
Bipartisan teamwork among America’s governors is essential to ensuring progress doesn’t stop at our state borders, because citizens’ and businesses’ needs certainly don’t. Massachusetts is partnering with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to enhance Boston-Providence rail service. And both Maryland and Massachusetts are party to the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which unites the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in bolstering the clean transportation economy and creating jobs.
This summit is an extension of the kind of collaboration we are using to fix our transportation bottlenecks. We look forward to sharing our experiences and listening during this week, so we can all do more to strengthen the infrastructure of this great nation.
Charlie Baker is the governor of Massachusetts. Larry Hogan is the governor of Maryland.