Transportation Planning

High-speed rail is one of the Obama administration’s major transportation priorities. Last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $8 billion aimed at developing high-speed intercity passenger rail service along 13 new corridors and this year Congress added an additional $2.3 billion. But the outcome of some key state elections next week could determine how fast that train arrives, if at all.

The U.S. transportation system lacks a coherent vision, is chronically short of resources, is costing the country dearly in lost time, money and safety and is compromising our productivity and ability to compete internationally. Those are some of the conclusions in a new report entitled “Well Within Reach” issued on behalf of a bipartisan panel of transportation experts who met for three days last year at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. While none of that is likely to be news to many, the report does offer a series of recommendations for a new transportation agenda that are worthy of consideration.

While tolling has long been a fact of life for folks in the Northeastern United States, other parts of the country have also been getting into the act in recent years. Our latest CSG Capitol Research brief entitled “Tolling and Congestion Pricing” examines toll projects underway across the country, the use of tolling as both revenue generating mechanism and part of a congestion reduction strategy, the modernization of toll payment systems and the chances for future proliferation of toll facilities. The brief includes a 50-state chart breaking down the number of each type of toll facility in each state. With a complete list of references, it’s also a good source for further reading on tolling and congestion issues. But there are a number of other recently released reports that may be of interest to you as well.

Last week I had the pleasure to speak at a conference on sustainable transportation hosted by the organization Women in Government in Newport, Rhode Island. Thirty-two state legislators representing 20 states attended the forum and heard from a number of distinguished experts on such topics as federal and state transportation funding, complete streets programs, commuter transportation, community design and integrating transportation networks to improve mobility and spur economic development. Here’s a rundown of what participants heard at the conference along with some links to resources that may be useful in setting your state’s sustainable transportation goals.

The interconnectedness of the nation’s transportation system and the needs of that system are put into sharp focus when one considers what our shipping ports and highways may look like after 2014. That’s when the $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be complete.

Intelligent transportation system technologies—everything from traffic cameras to real time road and traffic information lines—being implemented in many states hold the promise of making travel safer, more efficient and less impactful on the environment.

Seven Midwestern states are receiving assistance from the $8 billion High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to upgrade four federally designated high-speed rail corridors.

In 2009, the Obama administration announced a government partnership called the Sustainable Communities Initiative. But states and localities have for years led in trying to make communities more sustainable by instilling the principles of Smart Growth.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act requires bicycle and pedestrian ways be included when planning transportation facilities, particularly within one mile of an urban area. The Act requires the state department of transportation establish design and construction standards for bicycle and pedestrian ways.

This Act requires bicycle and pedestrian ways be included when planning transportation facilities, particularly within one mile of an urban area. The Act requires the state department of transportation establish design and construction standards for bicycle and pedestrian ways.

Pages