The Texas Transportation Institute’s Annual Urban Mobility Report just released a fresh set of numbers showing that traffic congestion continues to plague America’s urban roads and interstate corridors. A newly introduced index also measures urban travel-time reliability and the results show that even more time needs to be factored to ensure on-time arrivals associated with appointments, just-in-time deliveries, airplane departures, etc. 

While the new data validates what commuters and users of the freight network experience on our roads every day, it’s a reminder to policymakers that short-term transportation authorizations will not solve the drain that traffic congestion causes our economy. 

The wasted time and fuel comes at an enormous cost to the economy – $121 billion annually. For manufacturers, the unreliability and the cost of congestion add more expense to supply chains that strive to be efficient and competitive. As we seek to be the best place in the world to manufacture and export our American-made products to global customers, we need a transportation system that that is better linked to achieving these goals.

There is no one solution or quick fix to deal with America’s traffic congestion problem, but it needs to be addressed. Two-year transportation bills and long-term funding uncertainty for nearly every mode of transportation – highways, transit, ports, airports and inland waterways – are not sustainable. For a nation that continues to fall in its infrastructure competitiveness rankings each year, a better approach is needed. This report is yet another reminder that our economy is not well-served by neglecting the parts that help keep it moving. 

Robyn Boerstling is director of transportation and infrastructure policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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