Good morning Senator Wyden, members of the committee my name is Michael Burrill, Sr. and I am the CEO of the Burrill Family Companies, a mix of companies involved in real estate acquisition, development and sales.
Relative to this discussion, I also serve as Chair of a local, two county transportation advocacy group named TRADCO, which I’ll describe later, and as a member of the Oregon State Aviation Board. I also serve on the Freight Advisory Committee for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
We understand that our transportation future may rest on the banks of the Potomac so, let me thank you for saving us the 3000-mile trip.
Over the life of the federal highway program, funds have been targeted mainly at construction and repair of highways. While I want to join the others in stressing the importance of those efforts, as a member of the State Aviation Board, I want to also suggest that our nation’s transportation infrastructure is more than highways, but, air, rail, pipelines and waterways as well.
Freight transportation can no longer be taken for granted, and “seamless multi-modal trade corridors” are no longer the stuff of transportation fiction. Transportation -- as an integrated system -- is an essential component of America’s global competitiveness, and, as such, it can no longer be relegated to the backbench of U.S. public policy.
Today, as we continue to respond to the events of September 11, we should strengthen, not diminish, America’s freedom of movement, and transportation systems to effectively grow the economy. Consequently, service interruptions -- like accidents, congestion, driver shortages, labor strikes, late arrival of planes, ships and trains, terrorism, security inspections and unpredictable systemic inefficiency -- can quickly unravel today’s tightly strung systems. That’s why many of us in the business community are challenging proposals that are advanced to make us feel more secure, but which won’t work. I believe that defending our homeland should be achieved without losing our openness and mobility, or slowing the engines of commerce.
Many think about transportation vertically – or each particular mode as an individual economic mechanism. Each, of course, has its strengths and its weaknesses, and its wants and needs … and those are legitimate characteristics of individual business. But in today’s world, American economic efficiency requires that we rise above parochial thinking. I encourage TEA-21 and AIR-21 reauthorization so that we might continue the process of developing our transportation network as an integrated system.
I’d like, for a moment to talk about a local success that I hope will suggest that southern Oregon is doing its part to help find solutions to our growing transportation needs. I mentioned earlier a group called TRADCO. The mission of TRADCO is to offer an educational forum and to use political and social influence to advocate for the improvement and maintenance of the Jackson/Josephine County Transportation System consistent with the region’s transportation goals. This initial public/private forum was designed to bring all of our region’s stakeholders to the table for the purpose of true coordination of our area transportation projects. What we started worked so well that it is was the inspiration for Rogue Valley Area Commission on Transportation (RVACT) and subsequent Area Commission on Transportations (ACTs) around the state of Oregon. The Oregon Transportation Commission reached out to the local communities for assistance in identifying and prioritizing transportation projects by creating the ACT’s in the differing geographic regions of the State.
There are many consequences of a sub par system -- congestion, decreased productivity, more accidents and diminished competitiveness. Not to mention the billions of dollars that are lost when products don’t reach their destinations on time or when projects are not coordinated so we get the greatest benefit at the least cost. Coordination should be not only at the local level but at the state level and even between states. This fall The Oregon Aviation Board, Oregon Department of Aviation and the Port of Portland will be holding the first ever Aviation System Planning Conference focusing on the Northwest and involving the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and possibly California. The purpose of this conference is to start a dialogue within the region involving system growth and planning and regional solutions to the planning process.
Let me close by saying that since 1956, when the Congress enacted President Eisenhower’s plan to have an Interstate Highway System designed to protect American public’s safety and the American economic machine as well; the federal government has taken a leadership role in preserving our investment in that national system of highways, bridges, airports, and other portions of our transportation system – I want to urge you to enact a successor bills for the reauthorization of both TEA – 21 and AIR – 21 that will continue the legacy of maintaining a top-quality transportation network.
Thank you for your consideration. I’d be happy to address any questions.