ISTEA Reauthorization
March 28, 1997

Mr. Chairman, Senator Reid, as a fellow westerner, I'm glad to be back amongst some familiar visitors and people. I also thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of NEXTEA. I will focus my remarks exclusively on intelligent transportation systems, which we believe will be an important part of the bridge that we've talked so much about today to the 21st century.

Intelligent transportation systems range from very familiar things like advanced signal control that you've heard about in the LVACTS system today, things that are less familiar, including vehicles that will prevent automobile accidents rather than just protect us an air bag would when an accident occurs, and to the pollution sensing technology that we heard earlier this morning.

After about six years of ITS supported research in this year and over 80 operational tests, the potential for these technologies has become overwhelming. In metropolitan areas, very much as Senator Chafee indicated, it will function as a ground traffic control system, much as the air traffic control system. We have found that it has been cut by 35 percent, the cost of providing the capacity that we need and the kind of growth that has been talked about here in this metropolitan area.

It can also improve safety. All the vehicles were equipped with just three of the elementary ITS technologies that could avoid one out of every six of the crashes that occur today. That would bring us to a point where we were in fatalities in World War II -- stunning -- and it can save us tax dollars, which in this day and age is important, by streamlining government operations. You heard one example from Dick Landis; another example is we have found just one of the ITS technologies applied to transit properties can save between $4 billion and $7 billion in the next decade. That is equivalent of one annual allocation for FTA every year.

It was because of this tremendous potential and virtually all aspects of surface transportation that last year the Secretary set a goal to deploy this infrastructure across the United States in urban and rural areas within the next decade. And I want to assure you that we are on the way to achieving that goal.

We have heard the example here in Las Vegas of a state-of-the-art surface transportation management system, and there are rural examples as well, with a road weather information system here in Nevada that sets an example in getting real time accurate weather information highway conditions. That technology, we've estimated, could save $2 billion a year in the highway operations.

That has been linked to a travel information system known as TransCal on the corridor between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe that not only provides the road and weather information regular travelers like us, but also traveler services, like, where the gas stations are, where the restaurants are, where lodgings are and that type of thing.

You've heard of the application to the commercial vehicle industry. I think yesterday some o your staff visited the Saint George port of entry, similar kind of technology, that has cut the waiting time that ordinarily occurs at those weigh stations from 30 minutes down to a two minute transaction time. Obviously, it has streamlined essentially the State personnel associated with it.

It is because of these kinds of benefits in virtually every aspect of surface transportation that we have made a three-prong proposal in the reauthorization bill. One is for a very modest incentive program that would provide about $100 million a year to jump start the deployment of this technology across the United States, metropolitan areas, rural areas and for the CVO infrastructure.

Second, a research program that would build on what we've learned in vehicles that can help us avoid accidents, but also focus on developing the standards, providing the training that we need for our State and local partners, and the technology guidance.

Finally, the third prong of this proposal will provide legislative changes that will give State and local officials the flexibility to use existing Federal aid for ITS structured deployment. We believe this is an important piece of ISTEA proposal that will enable the vision of ISTEA for management of the infrastructure to take place. It will cut congestion, reduce accidents, and reduce costs, our government costs, and, by the way, it will add to our quality of life. I think that is important.