DOT’s Beyond Traffic Sets 30 Years of Framework
Launched earlier this year, Beyond Traffic is a campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to include the general public, people in the transportation industry, and those that govern the sector in talks about what the future holds for it, in terms of shape, size and condition. They want to encourage open communication about how the transportation network will meet the needs of our country and what goals should be set for it, including policy proposals, for the next several decades into the future.
The movement depicts a basic structure for the upcoming years without giving any specific outline or rigid deadlines or instructions. Nor does it choose any one policy over another. It simply sketches out main points and problems that our country is now facing, which it gathers through data, research, professional opinions and responses from the public. Some of the challenges outlined in the report are a rapidly growing population, an increase in freight volume, demographic shifts, and increasingly common extreme weather conditions.
In an effort to include the public and get them involved, the DOT has scheduled 11 forums all across the nation this fall. In each session, DOT representatives will discuss the details of the Beyond Traffic report, which will be published next year. The DOT expects most of the expected population growth of 70 million more people to be within the next 30 years will be in these selected 11 rapidly growing areas, many of which do not have the proper infrastructure in place to keep up with demand.
The hope is that by holding the forums in these areas, industry businesses, community leaders and advocates, elected officials, Metropolitan Planning Organization directors and regular citizens will participate in the talks, and bring their personal experiences, specific to their regions, to the table. They will have the opportunity to talk about the challenges the report cites as well as have input on what the solutions might be. “Everyone is a transportation expert of their own neighborhoods; we know our own cars, roads, bridges, transit lines and rail lines better than anyone else,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “So we are going to the 11 regions in this country that will experience the most explosive growth to hear directly from people in those areas about their transportation challenges and to listen to their ideas to solve them.”
The first meeting took place in Sacramento, California on Sept. 18th. The most recent was held Sept 28th, in Long Beach, California and was hosted by U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen and Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowen. “Beyond Traffic identifies that the logistics and goods movement industries of Southern California, which contains some of our nation’s largest ports, will be uniquely impacted by growth over the next 30 years,” Jaenichen said. South California anticipates a 61% population increase by 2050. They are faced with the realization that over 25% of their bridges are structurally deficient and 34% of the roads are in bad shape. If California hopes to keep up with the growing population, officials in the state have got to make some critical decisions and substantial investments on infrastructure.
“As we finalize the framework, we wanted to hear directly from residents who rely on and are working to improve the region’s transportation system, especially those who are involved in the region’s bustling freight sectors,” Jaenichen said in a statement. “Conversations like the one we had today are vital as we continue to tackle the challenges and opportunities related to the impending increase in population and the higher demand for goods that compliments this growth.”
See below for a complete schedule.
The 11 Megaregion forum dates and sites:
Sept. 18, Sacramento, California
Sept. 21, Phoenix, Arizona
Sept. 28, Long Beach, California
Sept. 30, Austin, Texas
Oct. 2, Orlando, Florida
Oct. 6, Seattle, Washington
Oct. 14, Boston, Massachusetts
Oct. 16, New Orleans, Louisiana
Oct. 21, Indianapolis, Indiana
Oct. 23, Charleston, South Carolina
Oct. 27, Denver, Colorado