In an effort to begin managing and improving the performance of our highway transportation system, the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed that states begin measuring key metrics, including air pollution emissions, reliability, congestion, and freight movement.
This is an important move, because traffic congestion is a huge contributor to air pollution emissions, as well as a major cost to shippers and consumers.
Transportation, including freight transportation, accounts for almost 1/4 of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. These emissions also cause serious health problems. Traffic related air pollution is linked to a large and growing list of adverse health effects, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease risk, premature birth and low birth weight, and premature death.
This information will be used to support the U.S. DOT Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, which supports highway projects that contribute air quality improvements and provide congestion relief, with an emphasis on reducing particulate matter air pollution.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said “The department is taking a major step to improve accountability and address the costly congestion problem that is plaguing our nation every day. Commuters and truck drivers from every state and region will be able to learn valuable information about how transportation investments are performing in delivering reliable highway travel with minimal delays and less air pollution. We are also taking a hard look at how to track progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and I’m looking forward to what we hear back on this important topic.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the folks who build roads are not keen for outcomes to be measured. Politico quotes Nick Goldstein, vice president for regulatory affairs with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, as complaining that “Everybody says they want more infrastructure projects, but they’re constantly throwing more regulatory hurdles in the way,”
For more information, see the news articles or review the notice of proposed rulemaking below.