Tags: Department of Transportation | 30 years | 2045 | traffic

DOT Traffic Study Paints Bleak Picture in 30 Years

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Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 02:52 PM

A new study from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) titled, "Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices," paints a bleak picture of the future of transportation in the U.S., which will be congested to the point of strangulation in the next 30 years unless solutions, largely financial, can be found, The Washington Post reports.

The study presents a scenario, the Post notes, of traffic in Omaha being as bad as today's traffic in Los Angeles, given the anticipated increased demands on the nation's highways.

The report notes that by 2045, the American population will grow from 320 million to 390 million, located chiefly in the South and West, straining our current system in which, the study estimates, we already spend 40 hours per year stuck in traffic with the annual cost of congestion estimated at $121 billion.

Urban areas will continue to grow, but away from pricier downtown areas, which will increase urban sprawl and commuting costs, since most people are expected to continue living in suburbs, not urban areas, the study states.

With the increase of online shopping and the demands of an increased population, freight delivery also is expected to expand.

"Cars will continue to be a predominant mode of travel," the Post notes, "but the rate of growth in vehicle miles traveled will increase more slowly than it has in the last 30 years.

"Transit may take on a larger overall share of commuting and local non-work travel, but cost and convenience will be paramount."

The report states, "If we don’t change, in 2045, the transportation system that powered our rise as a nation will instead slow us down. Transit systems will be so backed up that riders will wonder not just when they will get to work, but if they will get there at all. At the airports, and on the highway, every day will be like Thanksgiving is today."

Fixes will not be cheap. The Miller Center at the University of Virginia estimates annual spending between $134 billion to $194 billion each year just to maintain "infrastructure at current levels," while the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates it will take $3.6 trillion by 2020 to "meet infrastructure needs," which is about $1.6 trillion less than the current spending levels envisioned, the Post reports.

However, the report, released by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, states, "Can we imagine a future in which traffic jams decline? Yes. How do we get beyond traffic?

Essentially, three strategies need to be employed, all of which demand increased funding and new, more adaptive policymaking at the federal, state and local levels.

"First, we have to take better care of our legacy transportation systems. We cannot cross bridges that have fallen apart or connect commerce to ports in disrepair. Second, we must build what is new and necessary, taking into account changes in living patterns and where products will move to and from. Third, we must use technologies and better design approaches that will allow us to maximize the use of our old and new transportation assets."

However, it cautions, "These strategies are at variance with our current posture. The U.S. transportation system is still proceeding under a 20th century model in which our policies, practices and programs are presumed to be sufficient, as are the resources devoted to them.

"Our programs and policies have not been reformed to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. The combination of these forces, inconsistent, unreliable funding and static policies in an era of rapid change has left our transportation infrastructure in an increasingly deteriorated and fragile state."

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A new study from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) paints a bleak picture of the future of transportation in the U.S.
Department of Transportation, 30 years, 2045, traffic
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2015-52-03
Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 02:52 PM
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