2/02/2015 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD), discussed the need for a smart, coordinated, long-term transportation action plan.  Reed commended U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for unveiling a new report, “Beyond Traffic: a 30 Year Framework for the Future,” which addresses long-term trends facing our nation’s transportation system.  The report analyzes how those trends impact community and economic development, and what infrastructure investments will be necessary to remain competitive in the global economy.

“Building tomorrow’s transportation system begins with hard work, careful planning, and smart investments today.  We need a transportation plan that makes our communities more efficient, modern, and livable.  Secretary Foxx’s report jumpstarts the discussion by examining our transportation priorities, how we finance them, and how important safe and efficient transportation is to the success of our economy.  We need better roads, bridges, and mass transit infrastructure, and we need to invest wisely, in a strategic, coordinated way that will strengthen our economy now and in the future,” said Senator Reed.  “Our nation is growing, and the way people travel and goods move continues to evolve.  So we can’t afford to stand still.  We need clear vision and new solutions to modernize our transportation systems to compete in the 21st century.”

According to the Secretary’s report, not only is our infrastructure showing its age, but the capacity of our existing transportation system is reaching its limit.  The average car driver spends the equivalent of five days sitting in traffic.  Sixty-five percent of our roads are rated in less than good condition, and a quarter of our bridges need significant repair.  Today, 45 percent of Americans lack access to public transportation. 

By 2045, without any change or additional investments, the same transportation system that made our country strong will be slowing us down instead.  Our population will grow by 70 million people, and freight volume will increase 45 percent.  These trends will place increasing pressure on the transportation systems that we have relied on for economic growth.

The Secretary is not alone in expressing concern over the state of our nation’s infrastructure, and how it will support the nation’s economy in the years to come.  In its “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded our bridges and rail systems with a lackluster grade of C+.  Ports earned a meager C, and our road, aviation and transit systems earned a paltry D.   According to the association, unless the United States makes more investments in our infrastructure, by the year 2020 the amount of time Americans waste sitting on congested roads will triple, businesses will have spent an additional $430 billion to pay for transportation delays and vehicle repairs, and the United States will lose jobs in high value services and manufacturing industries.

Amtrak also testifies to the needs of our transportation infrastructure.  The northeast corridor rail network serves more than 17 million Amtrak passengers, 240 commuter rail passengers, and 22,000 freight trains annually.  Yet it relies on bridges and tunnels that are over 100 years old and well beyond their useful life.  Without additional investment in these assets, services and safety will be compromised.

In discussing ways to invest in our transportation system, “Beyond Traffic” identifies trends and challenges in the area of freight and economics, as well as finance and governance, personal mobility, technology and data, and climate change.  The report highlights innovations – such as automated vehicles and better use of data – that can play a part in how we face our challenges and make smart investments in our infrastructure.

Secretary Foxx presents his framework as a work in progress and is seeking public feedback.  Senator Reed encourages Americans to share their ideas and help shape the discussion.

“I encourage people to read the report and offer feedback.  This is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life – citizens, transportation planners, business and community leaders, anyone who cares about our transportation future -- to weigh in and make their voices heard,” said Senator Reed.  “I look forward to working with Chairman Collins, Secretary Foxx, and others to increase transportation options for Rhode Islanders, build for the future, and better connect our communities in a smart and sustainable way.”