Statement of Senator Bob Graham
United States Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Oversight Hearing on Intelligent Transportation System Programs
Monday, September 10, 2001
Mr. Chairman: I=d like to thank you for calling this hearing. Intelligent Transportation Systems have long been an interest of mine. I take a different job every month, and one of my more recent transportation jobs was a day spent with the Orlando, Florida=s ITS experts. It was a hands-on experience that helped me understand the tremendous potential of technology in transportation, and where we still have work to do to better integrate it into our existing infrastructure.
When we last reauthorized the surface transportation bill, I was pleased that ITS received such a focus in TEA-21. Since ITS, at that time, was an evolving component of our transportation universe, I felt then that we had a lot to learn about it.
I thought we took steps in TEA-21 to make sure that the Department of Transportation and the authorizing committees could get the best information about uses of ITS in our communities. I have been troubled over the past several appropriations cycles that money that was to have been distributed by the Secretary of Transportation on a competitive basis has been consistently earmarked to various communities without much thought or rationale.
I understand that the Department of Transportation is trying to make the best of these circumstances by collecting ITS information from the communities that received earmarks that we can use during the next reauthorization cycle. But, I would like us to be even more vigilant during the appropriations process to make sure that money that is being earmarked for ITS is consistent with the goals and purposes that we outlined in TEA-21.
In many areas in our country, I believe that ITS will be an answer to congestion and frustration on our highways. We have reached a point in places that it=s physically impossible to add a lane of highway ---- meaning we need to use our existing infrastructure in a more efficient manner. I believe ITS will allow us to do this C but I would like to be able to say that conclusively when we next look at a surface transportation bill.
If we lose the chance now to collect and analyze ITS data, explore Alessons learned,@ and deploy this technology in a rational, scientific manner, we will all be less able to make informed decisions when the time comes for reauthorization.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this hearing. I look forward to learning from these witnesses, and working with you on ITS issues in the future.