Bush budget would fund high-tech solutions for traffic woes

President Bush's proposed budget for fiscal 2008 includes $175 million to implement parts of a high-tech, multi-year plan aimed at reducing traffic congestion in urban areas. The budget includes grants to state and local authorities for testing the use of innovative intelligent transportation technologies.

The budget proposals support a plan introduced last year by the Department of Transportation that targets all modes of transportation. Then-DOT Secretary Norman Mineta called traffic congestion at seaports, airports and on roads as “one of the single largest threats to our economic prosperity,” with a cost estimated at $200 billion a year.

The National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network is intended as a blueprint for federal, state and local officials to help reduce congestion.

As part of a six-point plan, the strategy recommends developing  Urban Partnership Agreements with model cities to develop and demonstrate ways of reducing congestion, and the promotion of low-cost operational and technology improvements that improve traffic flow.

DOT recently announced a grant program for metropolitan areas that could provide winners with up to $100 million over three years to support development of such technology-based strategies.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America said the DOT’s strategy overall specifically encourages states to use Federal-aid formula funds to improve their operational performance, including providing better real-time traffic information to users.

Some $25 million of the proposed funding for initiative would be spent on a Corridors of the Future program aimed at particularly badly congested highways to improve interstate traffic and commerce. The five winning proposals are to be announced in the summer.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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