September 1, 2006

Mineta's parting shot

By DC Velocity Staff

In the end, he got the last word. During his farewell speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in July, outgoing Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta summarized the transportation challenges facing the nation and in the process, took a few swipes at his critics.

In his address, Mineta repeatedly urged lawmakers to consider the possibilities of private investment—both domestic and foreign—to help fund badly needed improvements to the public transportation infrastructure. Making an oblique reference to Congress's derailment of the Dubai Ports World deal, which would have let a Dubai-based company operate several U.S. ports, Mineta warned that the United States risks falling behind the rest of the world if it rejects foreign investments out of hand. "The United States ... will lose [its] competitive edge if we make a habit out of turning our noses up at investors in our seaports, airports, and highways just because they are headquartered outside the United States," he told his audience.

Mineta added that nations around the globe are moving swiftly to build the kind of strong transportation systems required to complete in a global market. "And while the rest of the world is building up its infrastructure, the United States can ill afford to close the door on much-needed investments—even international investments—in our transportation network," he said. "Not when our economic competitiveness depends on our ability to move products and people more efficiently."

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