The midwest’s transportation network is being reinvented as the region pushes ahead with an ambitious plan to reduce congestion and boost passenger traffic.
Transport manager Martin Mitchell has called for the creation of new roads and rail lines, along with new transit options such as bus rapid transit and light rail.
He said: “We want to be able to deliver on our commitments to deliver more people and transport more efficiently.”
The midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin have been working on a comprehensive plan for the region since 2012, but Mitchell said the plan had never been fully funded and had not yet been implemented.
He told BBC Breakfast that the plan could be the region’s blueprint for the future.
Mitchell said: There’s so much to do and we have so many ideas to look at, so there’s no time to get too focused on anything.
“There are so many options out there that we can explore and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who will be interested to know how we’re going to do this.”
Mitchell said his team would start by focusing on making sure all major roadways, including major routes, are in good condition.
The new roads would include improvements to existing roads, including widening roads, improving bridges and making improvements to major intersections.
Mitchell also said the new highways would be a major improvement to the region.
Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the region could be on the cusp of “a new era of mobility”. “
We’re trying to make sure it’s all safe for people to travel across it and we want to make it easy to get from one end of it to the other.”
Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the region could be on the cusp of “a new era of mobility”.
He said the region would also see an increase in new services such as public transport, bus rapid transport and public transit.
Mitchell told the programme that he was excited about the opportunities for regional growth in light of a “very exciting and exciting” economy, with the potential to become a world-leading centre of global technology and the potential of new high-speed rail lines.
He also said that the “golden age” of the region was on the horizon.
He pointed to the creation by US states of new states and the introduction of a state-owned transport authority to improve access to local government and regional infrastructure.
Mitchell added: You’re going from one big region to a smaller one and you’re going through the same process with different types of roads and different types or different types and sizes of rail lines and different type of bus rapid services.
“You’re going into a new era in transportation that’s going to be very exciting for everyone in the region.”
Mitchell added that he wanted to ensure the plan did not become a “gimmick”.
“We have to be realistic about where we are in terms of the amount of infrastructure we need,” he said.
“The biggest thing we’re trying do here is look at the real needs of the area.”
Mitchell’s announcement comes just weeks after President Donald Trump announced the US would increase the federal gas tax from 20 to 28 cents per litre.
Mitchell, who also works for US-based gas company Enron, said the gas tax hike would be “the biggest in our country’s history”.
He told Today: “I think the average American would be really surprised and delighted to know that they’re paying the equivalent of the gas price they paid in 2017.”
Mitchell was appointed Transport Minister in May this year.
In a speech on Thursday, Mitchell said he would be looking to boost infrastructure spending to support the region as it moves forward.
He highlighted a need for “more rail and bus rapid rail lines”, and the construction of new interchanges and bridges to connect regions such as the Midwest and Great Lakes.
Mitchell acknowledged that the government would need to continue to work on infrastructure and “the level of investment” needed in the midwestern region.
The announcement follows months of public pressure on Mitchell, with residents of the US state of Indiana and other western states taking to social media to highlight road safety concerns.
The state has been involved in a federal investigation into allegations that the company misled investors about the quality of its products.
Mitchell announced the new roads, rail lines in the state and the new regional authority on Friday, as part of his announcement on infrastructure investment.
He explained that the plans were in line with the region being a “transport hub for the world”.
Mitchell said that although it was “tough”, the new plans would provide “a big lift to our region”.
He added that the new infrastructure was “a major step forward for our region and for the country”.
Mitchell added he was “excited” about the plans, and that “it will be an exciting time to be part of”.