WASHINGTON – Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on Monday proposed a 30-year plan to revitalize the nation’s transportation system.
To steer policymakers away from concentrating on short-term efforts such as securing the Highway Trust Fund, Foxx said he believes the Department of Transportation’s future should stimulate policies, as well as funding, that keep up with demographic and technological changes.
“We’ve been planning like its 1975,” Foxx said. “Our transportation system hasn’t caught up to the 21st century.”
Foxx outlined a futurist framework, speaking at the Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting, as an effort to convince transportation leaders to reevaluate how to efficiently implement potential funding.
The draft report will be released in the coming weeks, followed by a comment period.
“It is done in the hope that present decision makers will look at the front windshield and not the rearview mirror as we try to plan and project our future,” Foxx said.
The plan will not entail recommendations of any sort, but instead highlights key trends and choices that affect the transport sector such as technological innovation and a growing population.
“What this effort will not do is be prescriptive,” Foxx said. “We are not writing a tactical plan for the country. We are writing about these plans.”
Foxx, however, did suggest there should remain a significant role for the federal government in infrastructure, filling the gaps between the needs of individual states.
According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 42 percent from 310 million in 2010 to 439 million in 2050. With a growing populace, Foxx wants to shift policymakers’ attention to a “much longer horizon” of the country’s transportation needs.
“One of the goals of this is to crystalize what is happening today and then extrapolate what we’ll think will happen in the next 30 years,” Foxx said.
This isn’t the first time the Department of Transportation has emphasized a long-term outlook. The National Transportation: Trends and Choices (to the Year 2000), released in 1977, included analysis on the nation’s transportation, demographic and migration patterns. That report, along with the country’s aging infrastructure, ultimately influenced Foxx’s decision to release an updated 30-year plan.
“There are enough disruptive forces in transportation right now where a reset is needed,” Foxx said.
By: Tara Longardner/MNS