Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Concord, California, at the Groundbreaking for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Test Track.

June 19, 1964

Governor Brown, Mr. Falk, Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen:

Those who believe that the frontiers of America are closed should be out here today. The dreams and the deeds represented by this ceremony prove that the era of the pioneers is not over. Only the area of pioneering has changed.

Yesterday's frontiers were vast empty lands, waiting to be claimed and cultivated by settlers who crossed the continent to start a new life. Today's frontiers are teeming cities, where too many people already lead a neglected life.

Yesterday's frontiers were crisscrossed by wagon trains. Today's frontiers are clogged by automobiles.

There are more than 80 million motor vehicles on our roads today. By 1980 there will be 120 million, almost one vehicle for every two people.

There are almost 1 l/2 million registered vehicles in the Bay Area alone. If they were lined up bumper to bumper, they would stretch from California to Maine--although I wouldn't recommend a trip under such circumstances.

So we must develop adequate alternative means of transportation, or the coming crisis of congestion may do more to frustrate the growth and development of America than all the burning deserts and the barren mountains which stood in the path of our ancestors a century ago.

You here in California are doing something about that crisis. This mass transit system is a victory, a victory for vision of men who started 12 long years ago to make it a reality.

Now we need a major national effort to solve the problems of rapid transit, and this administration is determined to make that effort.

Our Urban Mass Transportation Act sponsored by this administration has already passed the Senate of the United States and it will soon come to a vote in the House. We are going to do our dead level best to see that it passes the House and becomes the law of the land.

Both Republicans and Democrats are supporting that measure because transportation is a bipartisan problem. It is also national in scope. Seventy percent of our people live in metropolitan areas. Fifty-three of our country's biggest metropolitan areas either border or cross State lines. Their transit problems ignore local boundaries, but their taxing powers are limited and their resources are already strained.

Congress has voted billions of dollars to build highways, to build airports, to dredge harbors, to build canals, to improve river. navigation. In the last century Congress helped finance railroads and shipping lines, to open up new areas of the country, to open up new trade routes abroad.

Now Congress and the Federal Government must help to solve the problems of transportation. These problems require us to create new concepts of cooperation, a creative federalism between the Federal Government, the State governments, and local communities.

And that is what our bill will do.

When this bill went before one of the committees of Congress last year, a distinguished Republican Congressman from Ohio said to Congressman Patman from my State, who was testifying in favor of the bill, "Why are you from Texas interested in helping the people of New York solve their traffic problems?"

And the Congressman from my State said, "Well, I am interested because this is the United States of America, and the people of my State are as involved with the people of New York and California as the people of New York and California must be with the people of Texas."

That is the kind of spirit that we need in this country, and that is the kind of spirit that I have found in California.

The idea that we are 50 separate countries, that the Federal Government representing the destiny of 190 million people does not have a duty to meet the needs of those people-this idea is as out of date as the dinosaur.

The well-being of our people, the well-being of all of our people, is our first priority. I do not believe that the American people want to run a losing race with change. I believe that they want a happy partnership with their Government in order to turn the perils of the present into a promising future.

So we are going to work with the people of our States. We are going to work with the people of our communities to solve the problems of those communities and those States.

This administration does not intend to permit America to stagnate.

This administration is not going to stand still.

With the help of you wonderful people who have come here today, with the help of all of the people of the great State of California, your country is going to move ahead, to give every American a fair chance to lead a useful and a happy and a prosperous life. That is the function of government and that is what government under this administration will do.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at Concord, Calif., in the San Francisco East Bay area. His opening words referred to Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California, and Adrien J. Falk, president of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Concord, California, at the Groundbreaking for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Test Track. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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