US DOT Unveils Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices

 U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx examines the aging infrasture in our country. Photo via instagram.com/usdot.

In 30 years, how will you travel? That is the question the U.S. Dept. of Transportation wants us to ask ourselves. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined recently by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to unveil US DOT’s 30 Year Framework for the Future, Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices.

Beyond Traffic looks at the latest data and anticipates the trends and choices facing our transportation system over the next three decades. If we do not make significant changes, the US DOT predicts our country will face a grim future which will include extreme gridlock, higher costs, and more devastation to our already aging infrastructure.

Secretary Foxx’s draft framework for the future of transportation encourages us to ask ourselves the tough questions, look at the trends, and – hopefully – inspire some innovative thinkers to come up with solutions. “For too long, our national dialogue about transportation has been focused on recreating the past. Instead, we need to focus on the trends that are shaping our future,” he says.

How will we build a transportation system to accommodate a growing population and changing travel patterns?

How will we move things? By 2045, freight volume will increase 45 percent.

How will we build a transportation system that doesn’t just let a growing population travel – but lets them travel SAFER than ever?

How do we make our infrastructure more resilient for a time when weather events like Hurricane Sandy will occur with increasing frequency?

How can we invest the trillions of dollars our transportation needs in the smartest way possible?

These are the questions the US DOT wants us to tackle. So how can advances in robotics, research, and automation help us overcome the dramatic challenges the American transportation network is facing and change the future transportation?

Be a part of this important conversation and share your ideas at www.dot.gov/beyondtraffic.

More about Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices
Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices is structured in three parts. The first part discusses the major trends shaping our changing transportation system. The second part discusses the implications of these trends for each mode of transportation: highways, transit, pedestrian and bicycle, aviation, intercity and freight rail, maritime and pipeline. The third part presents a description of a possible future scenario based on the trends analyzed in the previous section.

Is America’s Infrastructure Neglected?

“60 Minutes” investigates America’s Infrastructure Problems

This week, “60 Minutes” aired a report on why our roads, bridges, airports and rail are outdated and need to be fixed. The piece, titled “Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure“, features an interview with Ray LaHood, former US Secretary of Transportation from 2009 until 2013, who is urgently working to convince lawmakers to invest in the much needed restoration of America’s outdated roads, rails, bridges, airports and seaports.

According to the report, of the 70,000 bridges in the United States, 1 in 9 of these bridges is considered “structurally deficient”. With tens of millions of people using these roads and bridges every day, this certainly caught our attention.

The piece, which aired on November 23rd, showed the rust and the cracked concrete developing on bridges across the country, especially in Pennsylvania, where the problem is most critical according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

LaHood says that even though the roads and bridges urgently need to be fixed, there is no funding to do so because Federal Highway Trust Fund is financed by the federal gas tax which hasn’t been raised in 20 years.

What are your thoughts? Do you think our lawmakers will be able to work together to solve this serious problem?  What is the solution?

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

When Disaster Strikes, the Federal Highway Administration Responds

Planning a summer road trip? If you are like most Americans, there is a high chance that you and your family will be using the Interstate System this summer. In fact, AAA Travel projected that 41 million Americans will travel by car just during the Independence Day holiday weekend!

Even though we often overlook the importance of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, it’s a critical piece of our country’s infrastructure.

All 47,182+ miles of our Interstate System is managed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).   The agency is responsible maintaining and ensuring that America’s roads, bridges and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world.  FHWA also works with state and local agencies to improve safety, mobility, and livability by conducting research and providing technical assistance to them.

So what happens to our intricate network of highways and bridges when the roads are damaged due to natural emergencies like hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and tornadoes?

To understand the pivotal role FHWA has after catastrophic events, watch “FHWA Works: How the Federal Highway Administration Helps When Disaster Strikes”. The video is part of their educational video series and demonstrates how the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program works to quickly and efficiently repair damaged roads and put communities back together after disaster strikes:

More About FHWA
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that supports State and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation’s highway system (Federal Aid Highway Program) and various federally and tribal owned lands (Federal Lands Highway Program). Through financial and technical assistance to State and local governments, the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for ensuring that America’s roads and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world. To learn more, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov.