Reports from AASHTO and U.S. PIRG highlight an unsustainable transportation status quo

T4AmericaReports from AASHTO and U.S. PIRG highlight an unsustainable transportation status quo

April 28, 2010

Two reports out this week speak, in quite different ways, to the urgent need for a fresh approach to federal transportation policy.

In “Road Work Ahead”, U.S. PIRG sounds the alarm on the escalating deterioration of America’s infrastructure and the need to get serious about repair and restoration. The“Unlocking Gridlock” report from AASHTO, the trade association of state Departments of Transportation, emphasizes the problem of congestion in our increasingly urbanized nation, offering highway expansion as the solution.

The subtext of the PIRG report is that expanding highway capacity – whether by widening or building new roads — is generally a bad idea, because it comes at too high a cost: Deferred maintenance on existing roads and bridges, perpetuation of over-reliance on cars with an associated dependency on oil and other problems.

For AASHTO, congestion comes at too high a cost, and the report marshals a compelling case that people should have a way to avoid those costs. However, the report comes up short in two respects: It does not adequately explain how we built a system that functions so poorly for many commuters, and it offers only one solution — more of the same.

About the author

Andrew Goodman, Community Engagement Director, New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Goodman is currently the Community Engagement Director at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.

Previously, Goodman worked as a city planner and project manager for PennPraxis. His focus was on projects that combined community engagement and public space design, including the Central Delaware Waterfront Planning Process, the Green2015 initiative for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and the Bartram’s Mile project in Southwest Philadelphia.  Goodman was an early contributor to PlanPhilly and helped shape the site in its first iteration.  As PlanPhilly grew, Goodman represented the publisher and provided professional planning input and project management support as the site expanded its beat coverage, went through multiple redesigns, conducted an internal strategic plan, and researched revenue generation opportunities.

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