Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
"Mobility, Congestion and Intermodalism”
Good afternoon everyone. And thank you for joining us for the third in our series of hearings on the reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation program.
I also want to extend a warm welcome to our witnesses who have traveled from near and far to be with us today. I look forward to hearing your testimony.
The subject of today’s hearing is congestion -- a nuisance that every person in this room has experienced at one time or another. Congestion is one of the nation’s most vexing problems, particularly in our metropolitan areas and on the highway system in those areas.
Beyond the general frustration that congestion imposes on commuters everyday, it has significant negative impacts on our economy, delaying freight delivery and creating inefficiency. Congestion also harms the environment and, as such, presents a threat to human health.
In today’s hearing, we hope to uncover some fresh ideas on transportation demand, access, mobility and program flexibility. These new ideas may become part of our contribution to the ten-year legacy of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
With the passage of ISTEA and TEA-21, our transportation program shifted its emphasis from building the Interstate Highway System to a new focus - the movement of people and goods. In metropolitan areas, where congestion is of greatest concern, this new “Post-Interstate” program empowers citizens and local officials to develop transportation improvement strategies, tailored to the unique needs of their metro region. The law also provides spending flexibility so that funds could be targeted in ways that will carry out local strategies. Gone for the most part are rigid funding categories. Funds can now be moved among programs to meet local needs.
In today’s hearing, we will explore lessons learned about our surface transportation program over the last ten years. We will look at trends in travel and congestion. Our witnesses will forecast future conditions to give us a context for reauthorization. Then, based on those lessons learned and changing conditions, our experts will share their ideas for improving our transportation program.
Our first panel will address congestion measures, describing past trends, present conditions and future forecasts:
Alan Pisarski is chairman of the Transportation Research Board Committee on National Transportation Data Requirements and Programs; and the Committee on Transportation History. He has worked in transportation policy for over 30 years.
Dr. Timothy Lomax is a Research Engineer for the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A & M University. Dr. Lomax’s most recent study, “The 2001 Urban Mobility Study,” uses a variety of measures to illustrate the nation’s growing traffic problems.
Our second panel will present ideas to address access and mobility:
The Honorable Ron Sims was elected King County Executive in 1997. Home to the City of Seattle, King County is Washington State's largest county. Mr. Sims is founder and organizer of the Metropolitan Congestion Coalition, bringing together metropolitan elected officials and business leaders nationally.
Anthony Downs is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. His 1992 book, Stuck in Traffic is among the most widely read on the subject of metro area congestion.
C. Kenneth Orski is the director of MIT’s International Mobility Observatory, and editor and publisher of Innovation Briefs, a newsletter on surface transportation. He also heads the Urban Mobility Corporation, a Washington, D.C. based consulting firm.
Frederick P. Salvucci, also from MIT, is a Civil Engineer and a Senior Lecturer specializing in Transportation. Mr. Salvucci is the former Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and presently serves as senior advisor to number of urban transportation programs.