Commentary on AASHTO testimony before congress


Today I will focus my testimony on four main points: 1. Construction Jobs. ...
2. Transportation is vital to the U.S. economy. ...
3. Sustaining an Export-led Recovery.
4. Infrastructure Investment Deficit.
Even in her intro we get a hint of the contradictory nature of car centric planning, it's good for the economy but it creates a deficit. So what is it, good or bad? There is no doubt in my mind that the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, in 1956 was good investment. But it's done and the same arguments used in 1956 are largely not applicable any more. The challenge before us is how to have more economical ways to move more people and possibly separate the movement of freight from the movement of just getting kids to school and other daily activities "that require use of a car."

Economic Recovery and Job Creation
Forty-eight billion dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) resources was set aside for transportation. This investment has provided a “lifeline” for construction industry workers and businesses...
But Bike Projects Create More Jobs Than Other Road Projects So for the sole purpose of job creation and for making up for lost ground of way too may car centric projects in years past or investing in infrastructure that is sorely needed we should be investing in bicycling projects. They have the real possibility of replacing 50% of car trips leaving our roadways more functional for the transportation of fright.

Long Lasting Results of Transportation Investments
The federal economic stimulus program has helped to create and sustain good paying jobs, but it also left behind improvements in transportation assets that bring long-lasting benefits to the economy. For example, in Nevada, many local agencies and Nevada DOT were able to reduce their backlog of pavement preservation needs. ARRA allowed potholed pavements to be repaved...
Pot hole repair is "long lasting"? And they needed ARRA funding to get it done? What ever happened to motoring paying there own way? If motoring can't even pay for there own wear and tear we should be concerned, very concerned.

The beautification of several miles of US 95 in Las Vegas with a recently completed $4 million landscape and aesthetics project, which received high praise in the local newspaper.
"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." - Charles Kuralt
If I saw the same level of commitment to bicycling where people truly appreciate and enjoy the landscape they travel through I would not say anything but $4 million for less then two minutes of green blur, I really have to question if our priorities are that effective, as no mater what kind of "beautification" Charles Kuralt statement is still valid.

The new Meadowood interchange project, now underway in Reno, promises additional access for residents and retail shoppers to a major commercial center, which will further enhance the local economy.
It would have been nice if Martinovich mentioned the multi-use path path included in the project as well as what looks like a truly multi-modal project as a example of what all transportation projects should look like. We have to call an end to an era where facilitating one mode of transportation is allowed to prevent or creates additional hazards (including premature death of the population) to the other modes of transportation.

Transportation is a Vital Sector of the Economy
Over the last fifty years, our population, our landscape, our economy and our transportation system has changed dramatically. In 1960, our population was 180 million; we had 87 million drivers and 74 million cars creating 600 billion annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT). Today, we have 308 million people, 208 million drivers and 250 million vehicles, and VMT has increased to almost 3 trillion.
Let's see in 1960 we had 7 billion miles traveled for every one million drivers. Today: we have 14 billion miles traveled for every one million drivers. And this is a good thing how? Many are feeling the pinch of increasing costs of "mandatory" car use policies. Just think how good you will feel paying $5 a gallon knowing you are helping the economy, [/sarcasm] This is not a point for more "mandatory" car use policies but for the exact opposite, we need affordable transportation policies.

According to federal statistics, transportation is a $1.2 trillion business that accounts for nine percent of the Gross Domestic Product, and 9.7% of the nation’s labor force. More importantly, it provides the infrastructure, equipment and services that support other industries, especially manufacturing, retail, services, agriculture, and natural resources, which together account for 84 percent of the U.S. economy.
Get Rich While Reducing Emissions: Smart Growth Keeps Looking Smarter
“[Vehicle Miles Traveled] and GDP have grown concurrently since World War II and in lock step for much of that time,” the report states. But around 1996, GDP began growing faster than VMT, and, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “the importance of travel as a component of the U.S. economy has been declining since the early 1990s.”

Pumping Up the Plea to Make L.A. More Bike-Friendly
"It doesn’t hurt that cycling cultures seem to be happy and productive ones. Holland, in this recessionary year, has an unemployment rate of just 3.3 percent, and Denmark, another cycling powerhouse, of only 5.7 percent. And Denmark’s GDP per capita is $68,000, compared with $47,000 in the United States."

Matters of Scale
Total spending on health as percent of GDP in the United States (2002) 14.6
Percent in Germany 10.9
Percent in the Netherlands 8.8

RESOURCES from the National Center for Bicycling & Walking
One in five children will be obese by 2010. Children should be active at least one hour each day; only one-third of high-school students currently meet this goal. Schools can help meet this physical activity goal, through physical education programs, active recess, after-school and other recreational activities. Education funding should be linked to all children achieving at least half of their daily recommended physical activity at school, and over time should be linked to reductions in childhood obesity rates.
Despite breakthroughs in medical science and a $1 trillion increase in annual health care spending over the past decade, America is losing ground relative to other countries when it comes to health. Astronomical medical bills strain family and government budgets and threaten America’s global competitiveness. Health care spending consumes about 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), much more than in any other industrialized nation, and is expected to climb to over 20 percent of GDP by 2018. The costs of medical care and insurance are now out of reach for many American households, pushing some families into bankruptcy, draining businesses, reducing employment and severely straining public budgets.
Meanwhile, the United States slipped from 14th among industrialized countries in life expectancy at birth in 1980 to 23rd by 2004. We need to look beyond medical care to other factors that can improve America’s health.

[Cue the D minor organ music and diabolical laughter in the background] We are going to get rich by making transportation and medical costs more expensive for the individual. [/Sarcasm, or is it?]

My point here is while GDP was a valid point while building the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, it stopped being valid in the 1990s and twenty years latter AASHTO still has no clue that our single occupancy vehicle transportation system is consuming GDP and not the other way around.

U.S GDP $13.312 Trillion % of GDT
Total Transportation $1.167 Trillion 8.77%
Personal Consumption of Transportation
• Motor Vehicles and Parts
• Gasoline and Oil
• Transportation Services
$893 Billion 6.7%
I think Martinovich just made my point., there is a huge personal consumption of GDP just to get around.

How to Sustain an Export-led Recovery?
... The good news today is that for the last year U.S. exports have been expanding at double digit rates. The challenge we face in keeping pace with that growth is that the nation’s highways, railroads, ports, waterways, and airports all require investment well beyond current levels to maintain
I'm not going comment on "railroads, ports, waterways, and airports" as that is beyond my expertise but I have to really question why lead with highways when so called "user fees" pay for them and we have expansion at double digit rates, sounds to me what we have is working.

General Motors sold more cars in China in 2009 than it did in the United States. Caterpillar is shipping heavy equipment from its plants in Peoria, Illinois to countries like China, India, and Korea which have undertaken massive road building projects.
Gee isn't it nice to know that we helped convert China which was known for it's bicycles but know it is known for its traffic jams. The automobile making life better for everyone. [/sarcasm]

Meeting the transportation needs of the Service Industry
The services industry is the largest and fastest-growing economic sector in the U.S., now accounting for one-half of U.S. GDP and one-half of all jobs. This includes financial services, information technology, health, education, professional and business services such as law and accounting, and the leisure and hospitality industries. Most of the 37 million new jobs expected to be created in the next 15 years will be in services. The services industry needs efficient transportation access to large markets and big pools of skilled workers to keep costs down. Metropolitan congestion, however, makes it difficult for service industry workers to get to work and for service industry customers to get to offices, medical facilities, schools and other service centers.
I don't know about you but that sounds like an appeal for roads like what's pictured above.

Let's try replacing "efficient transportation" with "economical and efficient transportation" and "Metropolitan congestion" with "two many single occupancy vehicles in the dense Metropolitan areas. " And that would be keeping in line with comments AASHTO received on Facebook. But apparently AASHTO is our of touch with the next generation and the Service Industry that they so called are supporting.

As the economy grows, there is no question that the capacity of highways and rail systems will need to be expanded to handle freight which is expected to double. However, if half of the U.S. economy and one-half of all jobs are tied to the service sector, it won’t suffice for transportation plans to focus exclusively on moving freight. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on passenger transportation improvements, in all modes, that support a rapidly growing service economy.
I'm not sure if I have to take back what I just wrote, but we have "capacity of highways ... will need to be expanded" and no where in her entire testimony does Martinovich mention "mass transit." That is a rather shameful admission IMHO. And it is also worthy to note Trucking is the least efficient mode of freight shipping.

Travel and Tourism
Travel and tourism is a significant component of the large and growing services sector.
Again I think AASHTO misses the mark here. We have heard news reports in the past that travel was down over the summer due to the high price of gas, Infrastructure is not the driving component here. And the fastest growing segment of tourism is active tourism. In Vermont bicycle tourism is a bigger industry then maple syrup. Also bicycle tourism puts more money into the local economy in a more diverse fashion then the automobile were a large portion of the money just goes into the tank.

While I still have a lot of respect for AASHTO but roads are no longer the upward driving force they one were. Even the Centers for Disease Control has gotten into the fray against AASHTO standards with How Land Use and Transportation Systems Impact Public Health: Over the last several decades, street design in the U.S. has been heavily influenced by road design standards that are used by traffic engineers to regulate and standardize street construction. These standards have favored the construction of streets that are wide, smooth, and straight, conditions that encourage high-speed, motorized travel and discourage walking and bicycling (Untermann 1987)

The era of using super fast arterial roads and single occupancy cars for every single purpose and to solve every single problem has to end. Instead we need to focus on variety and options.

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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Yeah children nowadays are more exposed now when it comes to computer..playing games. surfing the net and facebook.

Jean Brown
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