While asserting that congestion in urban areas will continue to be a growing problem in the future, panelists told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee there are opportunities to better manage mobility in urban areas.
In 76 of the most congested areas across the country, travel demand increased 86% while road capacity increased only 37%.
"Over the last 20 years our cities have not been able to keep pace with the demand increases brought on by population and job growth," said Dr. Tim Lomax of the Texas Transportation Institute.
Transportation expert Alan Pisarski told the committee, "we need to look at the next reauthorization period through the lens of the changes likely to occur between now and the end of the cycle." He said during that time the nation is in store for dramatic changes, including more than 300 million additional people. The U.S. can expect 10 million more immigrants, for 13% of the population to be over 65 years of age and establishment of another 10 million households.
Adding more road capacity will help alleviate congestion, but all funding for congestion relief should not be funneled to more road construction, Lomax said.
"Roads can definitely help, but realistically they aren't the 'wonder drug' prescription because cities have not been able or willing to add them quickly enough," commented Lomax. Transit improvements can help, but cannot solve the problem alone, he added.