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16 F I NA NC I NG S U R FA C E TR A NSPOR TA TION IN T HE U NIT ED ST A T ES it is clear that the Interstate has facilitated enormous eco- Provide a forum for financial information exchange, nomic benefits to the U.S. economy. Perhaps high-speed Offer intellectual stimulation and exploration, rail will do the same; if we do it right, it could be seminal. Invest in America's future transportation leaders, Under the current economic conditions, the administra- Engage the public and elected officials in the trans- tion will not raise the gasoline tax. TRB has plans to portation finance debate, conduct a study on the long-term maintenance needs of Provide practitioners with infrastructure financing high-speed rail together with potential funding sources. tools, and Identify candidate topics for further research. Question: Would it be possible to establish interstate partnerships with information providers? Ms. McKinley indicated that the committee's choice Administrator Mendez: Technology holds the solu- to hold the conference in New Orleans was made to help tion to that question. The Research and Innovative support economic development and the post-Katrina Technology Administration has a program under devel- recovery efforts in the region. She stated that the orga- opment to establish technologies to communicate with nizing committee had ensured that participants include infrastructure systems to help improve safety conditions, distinguished experts representing the private sector, the and concepts are under development to enable vehicles public sector, and academia. In addition to the open- to communicate with pedestrians. There are many excit- ing session's keynote speakers, FHWA Administrator ing technologies that could be used in this way. Mendez and Ms. Jane Garvey, Ms. McKinley confirmed that Michael Tidwell, the award-winning author of the Question: The theme of this conference is "Forging a 2003 book Bayou Farewell, would be providing a key- Sustainable Future--Now!" If increases in the gasoline note address during the conference luncheon to provide tax are not contemplated and if there is no support for insight into financial and sustainability challenges in the VMT fees, what is the sustainable solution being offered greater Bayou region of Louisiana. by the administration or Congress that we as transporta- Finally, Ms. McKinley emphasized the organizing tion professionals could comment on? committee's focus on encouraging and facilitating stu- Administrator Mendez: The United States has a motor dents' and young transportation professionals' participa- fuel tax in place, but it is not generating enough revenue tion in the conference. She invited the nine recipients of to meet our needs. Greenhouse gas emissions are an issue the student travel scholarships awarded by the confer- that needs to be addressed from a policy perspective. ence committee to stand and be acknowledged. There is a funding gap that we cannot figure out how to To involve students in the conference further, the con- bridge. Funding for the TIGER program came from the ference planning committee and the Public Policy Center general fund. of the University of Iowa coordinated a student video Ms. Garvey: The funding gap is there--we need to competition. The objective of the competition was to acknowledge this. It will take multiple strategies and a illustrate the public's understanding of how transporta- new mind-set to overcome the current funding gap. tion is funded and to educate the public on the need for transportation funding to inform the policy debate. Ms. McKinley introduced the winners of the student video Outline of Conference Program competition: Allison Reiter, a candidate for a BA in com- and Objectives munication studies and journalism and mass communi- cations at the University of Iowa, whose video is titled Ms. McKinley reviewed the conference program and Road Scholars, and Alexandra Sweet and Benjamin each of the objectives established by the organizing com- Goldman from the University of Pennsylvania, whose mittee for the conference: video is titled Fahrenheit I-95.