The Honorable Bill Campbell
Mayor of Atlanta
Federal Role in Local Infrastructure Needs
Senate Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
United States Senate
July 23, 2001
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. I am Bill Campbell, Mayor of the City of Atlanta.† It is a pleasure to come before you to discuss Atlanta's infrastructure needs and the federal role in investing in local communities.
I am testifying today principally on behalf of the City of Atlanta.† At the United States Conference of Mayors, I chair the Transportation and Communications Committee, a position that I have held throughout Congressional deliberations of TEA-21 and AIR-21.† In this capacity, I can offer some additional perspectives on the challenges before the nation in addressing our infrastructure needs.
I am also pleased to join my colleagues, Mayors Morial, Goodman, Streeter and Williams, to address the demands placed on city infrastructure systems and the solutions that the federal government can pursue in collaboration with cities and other municipalities.
My point of reference in my remarks is Atlanta, and the broader Atlanta metropolitan region, but the problems that I express are fairly typical of urban areas around the country.†† Many other areas share some the same challenges in dealing with growing demands for infrastructure investment.
At the same time, we are somewhat of an indicator of what lies ahead for others.† Among the largest metropolitan areas in the country, we had the highest rate of growth over the last decade.† We grew much faster than the national economy, growing at an average annual rate of 8.4 percent, increasing our gross metropolitan product (GMP) from $73.4 billion in 1990 to $164.2 billion in 2000.† Mayor Morial will talk about metropolitan economies in more detail and the importance of these regions to U.S. economic growth.
Mr. Chairman, I am proud to say that Atlanta is thriving. Over the course of ten years, the population of the metropolitan area, which consists of 10 counties, has grown from 2.5 million to 3.4 million.† These individuals represent a wide range of income, racial and ethnic diversity. †They are the foundation of our vibrant community.
Growth in the region has brought greater economic development, housing and job opportunities to the City of Atlanta.† We are a leader in global productivity, serving as the anchor of economic activity in the South.† To maintain this level of balanced growth requires not only strong business investments, but also sufficient and modernized infrastructure. As we experience this unprecedented expansion, we are challenged to provide solutions through our surface transportation, aviation and water infrastructure systems.† Recognizing the interdependency and interconnectivity of our success on the local level with national policy priorities, I offer ways to strengthen the federal investment in local infrastructure needs.
Our region, like Los Angeles and a number of other cities, is facing the challenge of reducing severe traffic congestion on the highways and roads.† In Atlanta, we have moved aggressively and decisively towards building transportation alternatives to protect the environment and increase the quality of life of residents.
One such alternative is rail.† In Atlanta we are using MARTAóour transit system, buses, and eventually, commuter and high-speed rail to move people to and from their jobs and recreation while simultaneously reducing pollution and congestion.† This involves coordination on a local, regional, and state level.† Plans are in place for an intermodal facility that will serve as the hub of transportation, residential and commercial activity for the downtown.
Our success is strengthened by the cooperation of the Citizens of Atlanta who are making lifestyle adjustments to embrace alternative modes of travel.† It is because of this changing culture that the vision for rail development must expand beyond the boundaries of the City.† High-speed rail provides the mechanism for linking communities and addressing the impediments to effective growth.
The State of Georgia, Federal Railroad Administration, Norfolk Southern and Amtrak are working together to roll out high-speed rail throughout the state.† They are planning to build a line that will connect Atlanta to Macon and, ultimately, Savannah.† We are pleased that Congress has provided the initial funds to study the development of this line.
High-speed rail would significantly reduce travel times.† It is estimated that Amtrakís connection between Atlanta and Birmingham currently takes 3 hours.† With high speed rail the trip time can be reduced to 2 hours by 2010.† Atlanta to Charlotte is currently 5.5 hours, and is expected to be reduced to 3.5 hours.† This is a major difference and will provide further incentive for people to ride rail versus driving.
I strongly support the High Speed Rail Act and urge Congress to pass the legislation to improve the efficiency of our overall transportation system and reduce congestion on our roads and in our skies.
We must not only address congestion on the ground but deal with gridlock in the air.
The fact that the nation's flying public is facing gridlock in the skies is obvious to everyone. Federal Aviation Administration forecasts indicate that airline passenger traffic will increase 59% to a billion passengers annually by 2010.† Those forecasts suggest further that some 70% of that traffic growth will occur at the nation's 28 largest airports.† Ironically, these are the very airports for which the primary cause of delays is lack of capacity, especially runway capacity.
Atlanta Hartsfield International is now the busiest airport in the world, surpassing even Chicago O'Hare.† Hartsfield handles 6% of the nation's passengers annually and generates $15 billion in the Atlanta metro region.† Hartsfield is also the most delay-impacted airport in the country with nine minutes of delay per flight and will increase to 15 to 20 minutes per flight in 2005 without the construction of our new fifth runway, which we have broke ground on this past April.† The fifth runway is part of a $5.4 billion Capitol Improvement Plan. These delay times cost the airlines operating at Hartsfield over $250 million in the year 2000 alone.† Letís not stop there.
Congress helped by passing AIR-21 last year, increasing the Airport Improvement Fund to $3 billion annually, and by allowing airports the option of increasing the local Passenger Facility Charge for infrastructure and noise abatement projects.† I was pleased to see the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in the FY 2002 FAA appropriations fully fund the AIP program by honoring the so-called "firewalls" erected around the Aviation Trust Fund in AIR-21. Letís not stop there.
I would urge the Congress to address the impediments to reducing airway gridlock by passing environmental streamlining legislation as proposed by the Airport Council and American Association of Airport Executives that will expedite review of runway expansion proposals.† We must not circumvent our environmental approval process.† However, the problem of taking ten years to build a new runway must be addressed, and these streamlining proposals have great merit in my judgement.
Along with the growth on the roads and in the air, we are also facing challenges to our water infrastructure system.
Four years ago, I developed the Regional Atlanta Watershed Program, a comprehensive regional approach to resolve our water infrastructure needs by addressing the environmental quality and supply of the urban watershed, rivers and streams.† This cooperation has expanded, through the efforts of Governor Barnes, into the North Metro Atlanta Regional Waste District.† Through the district, water resource needs will further be coordinated and addressed on a regional basis.
In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is completing a study to carry out water-related environmental infrastructure and resource protection development projects.† We are very pleased with our partnership and look forward to working with this subcommittee in the next year to move towards the construction phase.
The efforts of the Regional Atlanta Watershed Program involve protecting the quality of the Chattahoochee River, one of the most heavily used water resources in the State of Georgia. It has a finite supply of water.† Therefore, the health of this resource, lakes and riparian streambanks is vital not only to Georgia, but also to our downstream neighbors in Alabama and Florida.
Rapid growth has significantly increased water withdrawals from surface and groundwater resources, resulting in greater demands on the supply.† This trend is expected to continue.† In addition, increased pollution from stormwater runoff from roofs, roads, driveways and parking lots has transformed the watershed. This degradation is exacerbated by wet weather overflows from old, combined sewers that drain into community tributaries.
Since 1990, we have spent $1 billion to construct and expand wastewater and stormwater collection, treatment and control facilities to meet federal and state environmental regulations. We have implemented innovative
re-engineering and strategic outsourcing programs to reduce operating costs.
Our innovative approach to wastewater treatment has helped reduce costs for
capital facilities such as phosphorus control programs.† We spent an additional $2.3 million for watershed protection projects.† However, in order to comply with EPA federal consent decree for our SSO and CSO programs, we estimate that we will need over $3.2 billion dollars over the next 13 years to upgrade our system.† This is an astounding amount.†
This will put a serious burden on the Cityís budget.† The median family income for Atlanta is approximately $36,950, with 24% of our residents making less than $15,000 per year.† While there are approximately 500,000 people who reside in the City of Atlanta, over 1.5 million come into the City each day to work or for recreation.† I am sure you can see the challenge we face.† And we are not alone.† There is estimated to be more than $300 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs and $ 1 trillion in total water resource demands in cities across the country.
Mr. Chairman, I am asking Congress to provide greater assistance provide greater assistance with both low interest loans, grants and technical resources to communities to address these urgent and demanding water resource needs.† I would hope that Congress could give greater authority and resources to the Army Corps of Engineers, who are experts in dealing with water issues, to reduce costs, prevent flooding and habitat degradation and address the needs of our aging sewer infrastructure. The direct intervention and assistance from your committee and your colleagues in the Senate and House will help maintain both the sustainable development of the metro-Atlanta region and strong quality of life for citizens and visitors.† Importantly, this will ensure that the economic engine of the Southeast can continue to provide good jobs and services for our people.
As my colleagues from the other cities have expressed, we share many common problems. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to underscore one of the points that Mayor Morial emphasized in his statement dealing with the importance of local infrastructure to the nationís economic prosperity.† As a leader of a region that has helped drive our nationís economic growth, I would urge you to recognize the importance of an expanded federal partnership on infrastructure investment to your own interests.† These projects are not only crucial to our local and regional areas but they are to the investment that will help sustain the nationís future economic prosperity.
Again, let me thank you, Mr. Chairman and the Members of the Subcommittee, for your leadership and recognition of the importance of this issue.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today.