Congestion costs America $200 billion a year and traffic jams waste 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline …
Brian Turmail - DOT - May 23, 2006
U.S. investors, including financial, construction and engineering firms, must begin investing in highway, airport and transit projects to help keep pace with the demands of a rapidly growing economy, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said today at the NASDAQ market in New York City.
Mineta was in New York to outline a new national congestion relief initiative, National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network, and discuss the role the private sector will play in the new plan. He warned that congestion was costing America $200 billion a year, that traffic jams alone waste 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline and 3.7 billion hours each year and that airline delays were robbing the economy of $9.7 billion annually.
The Secretary called on American businesses to get involved in financing and operating transportation networks saying “we know that many private firms are literally knocking on doors in state capitals across the country, willing to invest billions of dollars in transportation projects.” But, he added that “while many of these firms are international, we believe that transportation infrastructure will be an increasingly attractive opportunity for American investors.”
He announced that, as part of the new initiative, the Department of Transportation was launching an effort to educate state and local officials about the new concept of private transportation financing, adding that he will work to encourage more states to pass the legislation needed to attract billions in new funding, investment and management of transportation projects.
“Private capital will give those communities willing to embrace it an opportunity to augment public funds in order to complete critical transit and highway projects,” Mineta said, adding that “we will never succeed in making today’s traffic a thing of the past without the involvement of this nation’s private sector.”
The Secretary noted that the private sector wouldn’t be alone. He said that over the coming months the Department would focus federal resources, funding, staff and technology to cut traffic jams, relieve freight bottlenecks and reduce flight delays. Secretary Mineta added that he was convening the first meeting of the new highway commission tomorrow and said he would task it with crafting “bold” solutions to fund the burgeoning highway and transit system.
“Congestion doesn’t have to be a fact of life,” Mineta said. “We are not going to let transportation be the chokepoint of our economic activities.