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Americans for Transportation Mobility Study Finds the Lack of a National Transportation Strategy and Investment Harms U.S. Economy


WASHINGTON, April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - The U.S. transportation system is failing to keep pace with the demands of a 21st century economy and a piecemeal approach to improving the nation's transportation infrastructure no longer works, concluded a study released today by the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition, and the National Chamber Foundation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"If the United States declines to invest in transportation infrastructure and ignores the transportation needs of key industry sectors, our economy will become less productive and less competitive," warned ATM Executive Director Janet F. Kavinoky. "Without an adequate transportation system, the nation's economic growth is at risk" Kavinoky added.

Meanwhile, global competitors have increased investment in transportation infrastructure. Economic powerhouses like China are building highways and rail lines, developing ports, and constructing airports while the U.S. transportation system erodes, the study said. As a result, "the margin of the U.S. competitive advantage is shrinking," noted the study.

The study, "The Transportation Challenge: Moving the U.S. Economy," attributed the poor performance of U.S. transportation system to the growing imbalance between supply and demand and the increasing age of the nation's infrastructure. Without investment guided by new policies, the U.S. transportation system will fall further behind the growing demand of five major economic sectors -- agriculture and natural resources, manufacturing, retail, services, and transportation -- that account for 84 percent of the U.S. economy.

Given population growth, shifting demographics and steady economic growth, a high-performance transportation system is a necessity. The U.S. population is projected to grow from 300 million today to 380 million people in 2035, while the economy is likely to double over the next 30 years, as is demand for freight transportation. These changing demographics create a more global, a more urban economy with a more diverse and aging workforce. Expanding demand and shrinking capacity for both freight and passengers across every mode of transportation raises fears about increased congestion, less reliability, and higher costs.

The report urged policymakers to become much more strategic in planning and investing in the U.S. transportation system. "If we do not, our transportation system will become a competitive disadvantage for U.S. industries, and it will be harder to sustain the growth of our regions and the national economy," the report said.

The study made a number of recommendations to address the transportation problem.

-- Greater emphasis on economic needs and issues, including attention to regional mobility, in formulating national transportation initiatives

-- Development of a national consensus among citizens, businesses, and political leaders on the importance of increased investment in transportation infrastructure

-- Immediate attention to the approaching deficit in the federal Highway Trust Fund

-- Greater emphasis on investments in a national freight transportation program that would implement highway, rail, and marine transportation improvements to benefit commerce

-- More public investment in infrastructure, using all potential revenue sources, including user fees and other revenues collected at different levels of government

-- Increased use of financing and credit options including tax credits and public-private partnerships, to leverage an estimated $200 billion in private capital available for transportation infrastructure investment

"We must act now," Kavinoky emphasized. "This report's findings demand a rapid response. We must develop and implement a comprehensive plan to build, maintain, and fund a 21st century transportation system equal to the demands of a rapidly changing world and a robust national economy. We have only one option: Invest now, or pay later."

A copy of the report and a report summary are available at: www.uschamber.com/transportationchallenge

/CONTACT: John Moore, +1-202-683-3110, jmooreqorvis.com, for the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition/