By TIM ALEXANDER
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama said retiring U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and he were drawn together by their shared allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people they were elected to represent.
“As secretary of Transportation, (LaHood) has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems,” Obama said on Jan. 29. “I am grateful to Ray and everything he’s done, and I wish him only the best going forward.”
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, was among those in the ag transportation field to offer statements regarding LaHood’s departure.
“Unfortunately, many in this country see our transportation problems purely in terms of urban congestion and long commute lines. While these problems are certainly real and need to be addressed, we cannot ignore the transportation infrastructure that accommodates the journey from farm to dinner plate,” he explained.
“We have been pleased that Secretary LaHood, who originates from some of the most productive farmland in the country, brought a strong rural perspective to the (DOT),” Steenhoek wrote in an email to Farm World.
Scott Sigman, transportation infrastructure lead for the Illinois Soybean Assoc. (ISA), agreed he had been an important proponent for agricultural transportation concerns. “The abilities (of) Secretary LaHood, across the several modes of transportation, stem from his 14 years in Congress and particularly his participation on the critically important Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“While safety in transportation is a keystone of his tenure, the willingness of the Secretary to have been engaged with the (ISA) and other agricultural groups placed emphasis on the need to get valuable crop production from farm to market,” he wrote in an email. “We are hopeful that the next Transportation Secretary is able to recognize and understand the importance of rural infrastructure – roads, bridges, locks and dams, as well as for rail, support getting ag products moved locally as well as regionally, nationally or even internationally.”