Transportation and Climate Change
Truthfully, there are numerous environmental reasons why we should be switching to other transportation modes like bicycling and transit. But with climate change being the hot topic, here are a few quick points about that.
Transportation is responsible for about 1/3 of the greenhouse gases emitted in the US (approximately 17% due to light-duty trucks and autos alone), and the transportation sector is the sector where emissions are growing the fastest (which I mentioned nearly two years ago now). We should be making a U-turn on greenhouse gas emissions, but are struggling even to slow down.
With this relationship between climate change and transportation, the highly discussed (at least in our media circles) climate legislation that is inching its way through Congress is a major transportation topic for 2010 as well (#6 on AASHTO’s list).
Transportation and Jobs
This was the #2 topic on AASHTO’s list and is a lengthy one as well. I think I will elaborate on this more in a future post, but the bottom line is this: “A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (Transportation Investments and the Labor Market) found that a $250 billion investment in the U.S. transportation system would create more than 2.8 million direct and indirect jobs.”
The creation of new jobs would clearly come through the enactment of a much larger transportation bill (discussed above). Additionally, funding for transportation (and the subsequent jobs) may come through a new jobs creation bill that builds on last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The funding in the version of the jobs creation bill (Jobs for Main Street Act) that got approved by the House “would include $27.5 billion for highways and $8.4 billion for mass transit; Amtrak would receive $800 million while airports would get $500 million and shipyards $100 million. States have identified more than 9,500 ready-to-go projects that can fund projects quickly and put people to work.”
Social Media (Twitter & Facebook) and Transportation
AASHTO also put more coordination between transportation and social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) on their list. They say:
Eighty percent of state departments of transportation are now using Twitter as well as an array of other “social media” to release information on traffic incidents, road closings, weather emergencies and other transportation-related information. Thousands of travelers have signed up to use this service. In Mississippi, Twitter sites have been set up to guide drivers through hurricane evacuations. Other media being accessed by states to educate their publics include Facebook, weekly news webchannels, podcasts and RSS feeds to spread their message. States are encouraging the use of these media “before they go” to avoid distracted driving.
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