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AASHTO Journal

New Report Outlines Cost-Effective <br>Transportation Recommendations for Congress

A report jointly released Monday by the Reason Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Transportation for America sets forth several recommendations for Congress to consider for optimizing available funds for transportation, saving money over the long haul, reducing traffic congestion, and better maintaining the current infrastructure.

"We face multiple challenges," according to the report. "Money is tight, as the gasoline tax we rely on to build and maintain our transportation network loses its earning power due to improved fuel efficiency and rising costs. Meanwhile, the nation's transportation needs are increasing as many of our roads, bridges, and railways fall deeper into a state of disrepair."

The report proposes several tools for addressing those challenges. One of those tools is the implementation of "Transportation Scenario Planning," which involves local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and regional councils working together to assess potential changes such as population growth in the years ahead that could impact area communities and transportation systems. Those groups then come up with possible responses to those forecasted changes; area lawmakers and businesses as well as the public, in turn, assess the proposed scenarios and reach agreement on the most preferred long-term solution.

As documented in the report, several states and regions have already used "Transportation Scenario Planning." Chicago, for example, recently adopted that approach in its "GO TO 2040" plan to create a new transportation system by 2040 meeting that city's projected population increase and resultant transportation needs.

Another recommendation in the report entails the wider use of high-occupancy toll lanes nationwide. "By combining variable pricing with limited-access lanes, governments are embracing HOT lanes as a means to reduce congestion, improve service on existing freeways, and reduce the need for publicly-financed expansion projects," according to the report.

Other recommendations highlighted in the report include:

  • Expanding the use of bus rapid transit, which draws on infrastructure already in place, technology, and dedicated lanes to run faster buses on local roads;
  • Deploying more Intelligent Transportation Systems such as electronic tolling and message signs to make better use of existing traffic capacity;
  • Increasing the use of intercity buses between population centers to transport a lot of people at once while also reducing overall emissions levels;
  • Promoting more teleworking options to help cut back on the number of vehicles on the road and free up transit seats; and
  • Improving local street connectivity so that travelers will have greater options for mobility and in the process reduce tie-ups on Interstates and other major highways.

The 44-page report, "The Most for Our Money: Taxpayer Friendly Solutions for the Nation's Transportation Challenges," is available at bit.ly/Transportation-Solutions.

5/27/2011
Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.