Obama mum on transportation in final SOTU

Obama mum on transportation in final SOTU
© Greg Nash

President Obama did not have much to say about transportation in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday night. 

Infrastructure advocates were hoping Obama would give some real estate in one of the highest profile speeches remaining in his precedency to the importance of transportation funding, but there was only one mention of road and transit spending during a portion of the speech that was dedicated to energy policy.

"We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future, especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels," Obama said, after touting a drop in gas prices to under $2 per gallon. 

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"We do them no favor when we don’t show them where the trends are going," he continued. "And that’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. And that way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system." 

Obama has frequently called for increased transportation spending in prior State of the Union addresses. He famously called for a nationwide network of high-speed railways in his 2010 address, but the vision remains largely unfulfilled as Obama enters his final year in office. 

Most of Obama's prior State of the Union transportation-related remarks were focused on convincing Congress to pass a long-term highway bill. Congress passed a five-year, $305 billion highway measure in November.

Infrastructure advocates said they were pleased with Obama's lone mention of transportation, despite expressing hope prior to the speech that he would talk a lot more about the topic. 

".@POTUS' #SOTU message this year is future-focused, and we agree. To move our country forward, we need to invest!" a group of advocacy organizations that promotes an annual Infrastructure Week in Washington tweeted on Tuesday night.