Dept. of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta on Thursday urged lawmakers to embrace foreign and domestic private investments in highway, airport and seaport infrastructure. This is a critical element of DOT’s national strategy to relieve traffic congestion released in May.
The DOT plan “will necessitate a cultural change to move from a government monopoly for much of our transportation infrastructure toward acceptance of the private sector and market forces,” Mineta said.
Failing to embrace public-private partnerships would cause the U.S. economy to lose its competitive edge as other countries improve their own infrastructure, Mineta warned.
Friday was Mineta’s last day as DOT Secretary. He is now working in the private sector as a vice chairman for communication consulting firm Hill & Knowlton, Inc. effective July 24.
Mineta and his family were among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced from their homes and into internment camps during World War II.
That experience, however, did not deter Mineta from serving his country. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Mineta served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea from 1953-56. Mineta's political career began in San Jose, CA, where he served as mayor and as a city councilman.
In 1974 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for 20 years. Mineta was chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee from 1992-94. After leaving Congress, Mineta joined defense contractor Lockheed Martin as a vp.He returned to public service in 2000, when he was appointed Commerce Secretary for the last six months of the Clinton Administration. President Bush tapped Mineta, a Democrat, for the top transportation post in January 2001.