Drivers have paid user fees into the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to ensure responsible maintenance of our vast national highway system, which is about 10 percent of the 4 million road miles in America, notes Schneider, who is president and CEO of Bismarck, N.D.,-based Knife River Corp. However, the user fees of 1993 aren’t able to keep up with the maintenance or improvement demands of 2011, he points out.
“Efficient mobility is safe mobility and makes us competitive,” Schneider says in a written statement. “Providing for interstate commerce is not only rooted in our Constitution, it also creates good-paying private sector American jobs. Delay means higher costs to repair later; more wasted fuel and time; and continued crumbling of our basic national transportation systems.”
The nation has been “grossly under-investing” in U.S. infrastructure, says NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson. “Its capacity has simply not kept up with an ever-increasing population and traffic,” she says in an association press release. “We’re paying the price in congestion now, but also in less visible ways.”
In a Jan. 18 letter to the President, the Association of Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) used the results of the TTI study as just one of several reasons that Congress must be urged to pass a strong, six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. “Over the last six months…there has been no tangible movement towards enactment of a long-term surface transportation bill, which is now 15 months overdue,” Pete Ruane, president and CEO of ARTBA, wrote in the letter. “Disturbing signs, though, continue to appear.”
The “disturbing signs” Ruane cites include construction industry unemployment continuing to rise, which he cites at close to 21 percent, more than double the national average. He also points out the TTI study’s findings report that traffic congestion in the United States is costing a “record” $115 billion annual drag on the U.S. economy.
“Your active and aggressive leadership is urgently needed now to break the languor in Congress and avert the serious, short- and long-term economic consequences of allowing the nation’s surface transportation improvement programs to take a several decades step backward.”
For a summary of the TTI report or for the full report and appendices, go to http://www.mobility.tamu.edu/ums/.
TTI report key findings:
• Congestion costs continue to rise at astronomical rates.
• Congestion costs have gone from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009. This equates to a cost to the average commuter of $808 a year.
• Congestion wastes a massive amount of time, fuel, and money. In 2009, 3.9 billion gallons of fuel were wasted and 4.8 billion hours of extra time spent.
• Congestion affects people who make trips during the peak period. Yearly peak period delay for the average commuter was 34 hours in 2009, up from 14 hours in 1982.
• Congestion is also a problem at other hours.
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