NY Train Derailment Prompts Calls for Better Infrastructure

Monday, 02 Dec 2013 12:16 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Reacting to Sunday's deadly New York commuter train derailment, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called Monday for new investments in the nation's infrastructure, describing it as critical to the safety of U.S. travelers.

"America needs to get back to being number one. America needs to make the investments," LaHood said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," noting that the U.S. now ranks 14 among developed nations in what it spends just to maintain its road and rail system.

The Metro-North commuter train from Poughkeepsie to New York City derailed Sunday in the Bronx killing four and injuring more than 60. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident.

But regardless, LaHood said Congress and the Obama administration have to work together to approve projects that will restore the nation's prominence as the world's leader in quality infrastructure.

"It's going to be up to Congress. It's going to be up to the administration. It's going to be up to the people to decide that they are sick and tired of driving on crumbling roads, driving on bad bridges, dangerous bridges, and driving and riding on 50-year-old transit systems that are in very bad need of repair," said LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois who ran the Transportation Department during President Barack Obama's first term.

Former Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell echoed LaHood's concern, calling for a 10-year plan to revitalize the nation's infrastructure.

"The [Congressional Budget Office] said we could spend $180 billion a year more, and it would be justified. And,it would have social benefits. And,it would add up financially," Rendell said Monday during an appearance on Morning Joe.

"Not only do we need to spend more money, but we need to plan. We need to decide what we want to do, what our priorities are."

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