Environmental Issues: Transportation

Traffic congestion in most metropolitan areas is costing us time and money. And our auto-centric transportation system -- built for the previous century -- is increasing pollution and the nation’s addiction to oil. After 50 plus years of building sprawl-spurring highways, experience shows that we cannot pave our way out of gridlock; instead, new road capacity is quickly filled up and the fiscal burden of its upkeep puts us back at square one. It is time to revamp America’s ailing road and rail networks to create a competitive, 21st century solution. What we need is a more modern, balanced transportation system that offers people choices, so they can enjoy the freedom of being able to travel shorter distances or less often by car.

Fix It First

America has built some of the world's best roads, bridges and railways, offering people freedom to travel, do business and enjoy a quality of life unsurpassed in most of the world. For decades, our infrastructure has worked so well that it was taken for granted. Today, however, years of neglected repairs, a harmful dependence on oil and a broken funding system have left our nation's transportation infrastructure in desperate need of an overhaul. When making funding decisions, states and the federal government should prioritize fixing what's broken instead of spending limited resources to pave new lanes that won’t solve gridlock. Indeed, only one in five Americans believes building new roads will ease congestion and the vast majority favor investments to improve and expand public transportation.

Hate Traffic? Love Transit

Our transportation system was built in the days of cheap, easy oil. Now we are shackled to a polluting fuel source whose supply is controlled by unfriendly or unstable nations. But there's a lot we can do to become more resilient in the face of oil price shocks. By investing in transit we can give people real transportation choices so people aren't forced to burn a gallon of gas every time they need to pick up groceries or get to work. Along with other solutions -- like charging stations for electric cars, smart traffic technology, or communities where people can walk or bike to shops, schools and work -- transit can help break our addiction to oil. Laying the groundwork for a 21st Century transportation system that makes our communities more productive and efficient will we free us from constantly worrying about prices at the pump, while boosting our economy, safeguarding our environment, and improving our quality of life. Transit: Some of us ride it. All of us need it.

Drive Less, Save More

By providing more people with the option to drive less, we all will thrive more. Take the commonly held misconception that more driving fosters economic growth. In fact, efforts to cut driving and reduce traffic are good for the economy. When we look at efforts to both make our transportation system more efficient -- using carpool lanes or more transit -- and change land use to reduce the need to drive -- via transit-friendly development and walkable neighborhoods -- the economic benefits are significant. In addition, providing communities with more alternatives to driving will save people time stuck in traffic, money spent on gas and car costs, and oil consumed. Moreover, more transportation choices will increase mobility and expand job opportunities for workers without access to a car.

last revised 7/17/2013

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