This weekend marks the last (unofficial) weekend of summer, and with the long weekend just hours away, people across the country will be hitting the road. Another holiday means more holiday traffic, which shines a spotlight on the need to improve our transportation infrastructure. According to the travel industry group Airlines for America, about 17.5 million passengers are projected to fly U.S. airlines this weekend – almost a 4% increase over last year’s 16.9 million passengers. We hope that with Congress returning back to DC and back to session, they take note of how our aging infrastructure unfortunately delays our trips back home or that last summer vacation.
The timing fits well with the recently released 2019 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). This report examines conditions in 494 urban areas across all states and Puerto Rico. Of note, the report stated that commuters are spending 54 hours a year stuck in traffic – more than a week of vacation – up from 20 hours in 1982 and up from 42 hours a year that ASCE reported in its 2016 Failure to Act economic study. In addition, that annual cost of delay per commuter has nearly doubled, to $1,010 and that fuel wasted due to stalled traffic? It has more than tripled, to 3.3 billion gallons a year.
Researchers stressed the need to make our roads and transit systems more efficient, reducing demand on the roads through telework, and balancing demand and roadway capacity better by adjusting work hours, as well as smarter land use. Moreover, these added costs due to increased congestion affects national productivity, quality of life, the economy, and ability to stay competitive in the world.
So before you head out this holiday weekend – before you calculate the time you need to leave the house to get to the airport or reach your destination in time for the big pool party, take a moment to make your voice heard by sharing your thoughts on this report, your commuting stories, and the need for Congress to prioritize infrastructure – especially with the next steps on the surface transportation bill (America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act). Visit your Member of Congress’ websites to see when their next public event is, schedule a meeting with them, send an email to your Member of Congress on these issues, or maybe invite them to one of your ASCE Section events.