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President Obama: "The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over"

by Kaid Benfield

At the president's town hall meeting in Fort Myers, Florida, earlier today, he gave a clear statement about where the country needs to go with regard to land use and transportation:

"Now, look, this is America. We always had the best infrastructure. We were always willing to invest in the future. Governor Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the Civil War, in the midst of all this danger and peril, what did he do? He helped move the intercontinental railroad.  He helped start land grant colleges. He understood that even when you're in the middle of crisis, you've got to keep your eye on the future. So transportation is not just fixing our old transportation systems but its also imaging new transportation systems.

a vision for high-speed rail in Florida (by: FL High Speed Rail Authority)

"That's why I'd like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. That's why I would like to invest in mass transit because potentially that's energy efficient and I think people are alot more open now to thinking regionally in terms of how we plan our transportation infrastructure. The days where we're just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody recognizes that that's not a smart way to build communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this kind of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation. That will make a big difference."

The remarks came in response to a question from a member of the audience who was a local elected official:  "We don't want to drill for oil in the Gulf.  We've got a beautiful pristine state, so I am asking you,  how will we get our state going again in transportation?  I'm very worried about our dependence on foreign oil and I don't want to drill in our Gulf.  I want some commuter rail and I want to improve our transportation."

For context, see the t4America blog, here, and the White House blog, here.

On the night of the president's election, I published some passages from his campaign statements suggesting that he may be the best leader we have had in my lifetime at understanding issues related to cities, metro areas, transportation, and sustainability.  Three weeks into the job, he's still on message.   Applause, please.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

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Wow! Very exciting stuff. Let's make sure he follows through!

Posted by: Edward on 11 Feb 09

Thank you for saying that, President Obama! I hope that his administration drags us, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

Posted by: John Giezentanner on 17 Feb 09

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