Leading bipartisan change: former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer's new role as co-chair of the national transportation policy project.

Position:Interview
 
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The Bipartisan Policy Center recently selected former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer as co-chair of its National Transportation Policy Project, which is charged with creating a new vision of transportation policy that focuses on national economic, environmental and security goals.

The Detroiter had the chance to interview Mayor Archer and find out what his appointment and this new transportation reauthorization bill means for our region.

Why did you decide this is an assignment you should take on at this time?

As noted recently, Michigan has the poorest roads in the United States. It is no secret that we're running out of money to repair our roads and bridges. There are additional challenges because of the growth that's occurring in our state, especially in Oakland County, where new businesses are coming in. There's a need for mass transit for our entire region. There's also been a prolonged discussion on light rail throughout the region, Lansing and Ann Arbor.

It's no secret that our nation's transportation systems are woefully behind many areas of the world. Funding is challenged more and more in our nation. Do we completely rely on these reauthorization bills, or do states more independently start to strategize towards improving their systems?

We need a comprehensive strategy to address the transportation needs of America. Whether it's bus or rail, there's no publicly owned transportation system that runs by fare box alone--it needs to be supplemented. The city of Detroit, for example, has supplemented for years its bus transportation. What our citizens pay is not sufficient to pay for the bus system. So we need something that's comprehensive, and that's why I think this bipartisan initiative is the best answer. We are looking at it from a perspective of what is in the best interest of America. The people who have been brought together here have been asked to put aside their personal desires of what they'd like to see and put the country first. That will allow us to bring to present a game plan that will be fair across the board, and that ultimately will allow Michigan to divest itself of a reputation of not having good highways.

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As you know, the Detroit Regional Chamber has...

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