Statement of ARTBA President Pete Ruane on the TTI annual traffic congestion report

News Transportation Development Foundation May 16, 2005
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“The root cause of traffic congestion in America is the failure of government at all levels to make the transportation capital investments necessary to keep pace with the mobility demands of an ever growing U.S. population and economy.

“This is no mystery. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, since 1982 U.S. population and economic growth has driven a 74% increase in vehicle miles traveled. Over the same period, road lane mileage has only increased six percent. Serious public investment in new public transit, rail, airport and waterway capacity has similarly been neglected.”

Major Findings

According to the TTI report, Americans are now wasting 2.3 billion gallons of motor fuel annually sitting in stalled traffic. To put that in perspective, Federal Highway Administration data show that’s more than the combined annual motor fuel consumption of six states—Alaska, Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii and North Dakota.

At $2.28 per gallon, the motor fuel wasted due to traffic congestion is costing American motorists and shippers $6.2 billion a year. Lost productivity, TTI reports, adds another $60 billion annually to the traffic gridlock tax.

“President Bush recently pointed out that ‘Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American people.’ What about the U.S. ‘traffic congestion tax’—in time and money—being levied on all American families and businesses?

“Any comprehensive federal energy plan should include a concise policy and investment strategy to address the nation’s growing traffic congestion problem.

“We share the President’s view that it’s time for America to start building again to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign energy supplies. Building needed new transportation infrastructure capacity should be part of the solution along with the proposed new capacity for nuclear power and oil and natural gas production.

“We could kick-start a new federal energy plan by putting real-growth investment into the deficit-neutral highway and transit program bill, which will be debated in the U.S. Senate this week, and enacting it into law quickly. It has been stalled in an ideological and partisan traffic jam for almost two years.

“Sometimes we don’t see answers that are right in front of us.”

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