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Government report raises US transportation system fears

US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and Google chairman Eric Schmidt have unveiled a frightening report on the US transportation system, and its readiness to cope with projected growth trends over the next three decades.

Beyond Traffic outlines the trends that are likely to shape the needs of American transport between now and 2045.

It was created by a team of experts assembled by the US Department of Transportation in January 2014.

The study identifies key trends affecting the network, examines their potential impacts. It also discusses policy options and potential choices.

“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,” said Foxx.

The report reveals some frightening statistics. By 1945, America’s population will grow by 70M, and freight volumes will increase by 45%.

Sea levels will rise 300mm, and transportation will account for 28% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

Two-thirds of American roads are graded as being in “less than good condition,” and 25% of bridges are in poor shape.

Despite this, investment in transportation infrastructure has fallen in real terms over the past two decades, and this year, there will be a shortfall of £7.5bn for highway maintenance alone.

Meanwhile, the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents (11.5p) per gallon has remained constant over over 20 years.

Beyond Traffic is structured in three parts. The first part discusses the major trends shaping the changing United States 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 analysed in the previous section.

It concludes with a discussion of policy options based on the implications of these trends.

  • The full report can be viewed here.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I assume that the date quoted above of 1945 is just an NCE misprint and if there is to be a projected increase that the date should read 2045 ???!!!

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