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