Through the use of high technology, innovative project design and construction, cleaner-burning fuels, and intensive recycling of waste materials, the transportation sector has been the driving force behind much of the improvement in the U.S. environment over the past 30 years. That story, documented with recent federal government data, is detailed in a new publication from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
"The good news in the publication, Transportation & the Environment: Perspectives in Progress, is going to surprise many people," ARTBA President Pete Ruane said. "The facts about transportation and the environment just don't back up the view of the world that no-growth advocates continue to feed the media, government officials and the general public."
According to U.S. DOT data, motor vehicle emissions have dropped significantly since 1970. Carbon monoxide emissions are down 43%, volatile organic compounds are down 59%, particulate matter emissions are down 42% and lead emissions have been virtually eliminated.
During this same time period, the quality of the nation's rivers, lakes and streams has either been maintained or improved by all objective measurements.
The publication documents how traffic congestion caused by the failure to add road capacity to keep pace with population growth, a growing economy, public transportation needs and other demographic trends causes unnecessary air pollution.
A Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report cited in the ARTBA publication shows that in 2002 the federal "Wetlands Mitigation Program" created nearly 2.7 acres of wetlands for every acre of wetlands contributed to road and transit improvements.
Another FHWA report shows that more than 80 million of the 100 million tons of asphalt pavement removed each year during resurfacing and widening projects is reused.