Category Archives: Transportation

Primer on Transportation and Climate Change Issued by AASHTO

Source: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

From news release:
AASHTO has published an information report titled Primer on Transportation and Climate Change, which serves as an introduction to the issue of climate change and its implications for transportation policy in the U.S. The report:
• Summarizes the current state of scientific knowledge concerning the causes and impacts of climate change;
• Provides an introduction to climate change policy issues;
• Discusses trends in greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation;
• Reviews potential measures to reduce such emissions; and
• Identified issues for further research.

Full Document (PDF; 7.5 MB)

Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission

Source: National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission

Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, prepared by a specially convened Commission, meets the charge given under Section 1909 of the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The Report includes detailed recommendations for creating and sustaining a pre-eminent surface transportation system in the United States. The Commission is grateful to all of the individuals and organizations who shared their views and experiences in writing and at hearings and public meetings across the nation.

Download in sections (PDFs) or as full report (PDF; 140.7 MB).

Report in HTML format

Related C-SPAN Hearing Video: Funding the Highway Trust Fund (01/17/07)

EPIC Report: “REAL ID Implementation Review: Few Benefits, Staggering Costs”

Source: Electronic Privacy Information Center

Throughout its history, the United States has rejected the idea of a national identification system. Yet, the Department of Homeland Security continues to push forward a system of identification that has been widely opposed. The REAL ID Act mandates that State driver’s licenses and ID cards follow federal technical standards and verification procedures issued by Homeland Security. REAL ID also enables tracking, surveillance, and profiling of the American public.

May 11, 2008 was the statutory deadline for implementation of the REAL ID system, but not one State is in compliance with the federal law creating a national identification system. In fact, 19 States have passed resolutions or laws rejecting the national ID program. The Department of Homeland Security has faced so many obstacles that the agency now plans an implementation deadline of 2017 — nine years later than the 2008 statutory deadline.

Homeland Security claims that it is making strides in implementing the national ID program. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff encourages the use of the REAL ID system for a wide variety of purposes unrelated to the law that authorized the system. In an opinion column written by Secretary Chertoff after the publication of the final rule in January, he said, “embracing REAL ID” would mean it would be used to “cash a check, hire a baby sitter, board a plane or engage in countless other activities.” None of these uses for the REAL ID have a legal basis. Each one creates a new risk for Americans who are already confronting the staggering problem of identity theft.

Last year, EPIC submitted detailed comments to the DHS on the draft proposal for REAL ID. With the assistance of many experts, we attempted to address the enormous challenge in the project proposal. In the following report, EPIC details the many problems with the final plan to implement this vast national identification system. The REAL ID system remains filled with threats to privacy, security and civil liberties that have not been resolved.

Full report (PDF; 450 KB)

Transportation and the Economy

Source: Brookings Institution, Opportunity 08, April 28, 2008

From the summary:
On April 28, the Brookings Institution’s Opportunity 08 project hosted U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters for a discussion of America’s transportation infrastructure. Secretary Peters focused on the challenges facing the nation’s transportation network, and how local, state and national leaders can take advantage of new technology and approaches to unleash a new wave of transportation investments in this country.

Watch the video

Financing Transportation in the 21st Century – An Intergovernmental Perspective

Source: Intergovernmental Forum on Transportation Finance, January 2008

From the press release:
WASHINGTON, March 12 —
The gap between America’s surface transportation needs and the financial resources required to bridge them is large, immediate and long-term, according to a report released by state and local government groups. All levels of government must work together to set system-performance goals and provide the financial means to meet those goals, the report concluded.

Surface Transportation Restructured Federal Approach Needed for More Focused, Performance-Based, and Sustainable Programs

Source: GAO Reports, GAO-08-400, March 2007

From the summary:
Surface transportation programs need to be reexamined in the context of the nation’s current unsustainable fiscal path. Surface transportation programs are particularly ready for review as the Highway Trust Fund faces a fiscal imbalance at a time when both congestion and travel demand are growing. As you requested, this report (1) provides an overview of the federal role in surface transportation and the goals and structures of federal programs, (2) summarizes GAO’s conclusions about the structure and performance of these programs, and (3) provides principles to assess options for focusing future surface transportation programs. GAO’s study is based on prior GAO reports, stakeholder reports and interviews, Department of Transportation documents, and the views of transportation experts.

See also:

States Identify $18 Billion in Projects “Ready to Go” To Aid in Economic Stimulus

Source: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Press release, January 30, 2008

State transportation departments could award and begin more than 3,000 highway projects totaling approximately $18 billion within 30-90 days from enactment of federal economic stimulus legislation, according to a survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The survey, conducted this week at the request of Congressional committees who are at work on the stimulus effort, drew responses from 47 of AASHTO’s members, including the District of Columbia. The state-by-state response is attached.
Press release includes chart.

Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission

Source: National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, December 2007

Over the next half-century, the U.S. is projected to add 150 million new residents, a 50 percent increase over its current population. This growing society will demand higher levels of goods and services, and will rely on the transportation system to access them. In turn, this will cause travel to grow at an even greater rate than the population.

As part of an increasingly integrated global economy, the U.S. will see greater pressures on its international gateways and domestic freight distribution network to deliver products and materials to where they are needed. The Nation is faced with a massive increase in passenger and freight travel.

The Nation’s surface transportation program has reached a crossroads. Will it continue to function as it has since the completion of the Interstate system, pursuing no discernible national interests other than the political imperatives of “donor State” rights and congressional earmarking? Or will it advance concerted actions to confront the transportation challenges facing the Nation that have reached crisis proportions–the deferred maintenance of its basic infrastructure; the burgeoning international trade and its impact on our road and rail networks; the traffic congestion that is crippling metropolitan America; the continued carnage on the Nation’s highways; and powering cars and trucks with fossil fuels, much of which is imported from foreign countries?


States are poised to spend billions on fixing infrastructure. They might want to fix the construction industry first.
Source: ZACH PATTON, Governing, November 2007

…That’s a big problem because in the aftermath of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, states are poised to make some big infrastructure investments. As that calamity made clear, many of America’s roadways, bridges and tunnels are in critical condition after decades of deferred maintenance. In some places, the needs are especially pressing. Massachusetts needs to spend $17 billion on repairs, according to one report. In Pennsylvania, the tab for bridge maintenance is $11 billion. In New Jersey, it’s more than $13.5 billion. Overall, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s infrastructure system a grade of “D,” and the group says that fixing the country’s existing problems is a job with a $1.6 trillion price tag.

As states redouble their efforts on maintenance, the trick will be to produce more successful projects such as the MacArthur Maze and fewer tarnished ones along the lines of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. It won’t be easy. Issues of cost overruns and missed deadlines have plagued construction projects for years. And transportation departments will continue to deal with a construction industry that is, in many ways, antiquated, inefficient and wasteful. Minnesota, still shaking off the shock of seeing a key transportation asset crumble into the Mississippi River, is now grappling with its replacement cost soaring toward $400 million. That’s 57 percent higher than the amount the federal government set aside for the bridge. And construction hasn’t even begun yet.

When a Bridge Falls Down

Source: Matt Sundeen, State Legislatures, October/November 2007

The catastrophic collapse of the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River in August sent shockwaves that reverberated well beyond the immediate vicinity of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The deteriorating condition of the country’s network of highways, bridges and rail lines is a problem that has long concerned transportation experts. For most, the bridge collapse was a call-to-action to fund overdue improvements and fix the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure. Although many federal, state and local lawmakers agree repairs are needed, what the appropriate response should be continues to be a matter for debate.