Judith Rodin has an insightful op-ed about the transportation policy crossroads the country faces next year as it comes time for congress to reauthorize the main federal transportation funding legislation. Will the next administration show the vision of a Dwight Eisenhower and give us the fundamental rethink of infrastructure policy we need:

Another critical danger is environmental. Today, the transportation sector consumes 90 percent of the United States' imported oil while producing one-third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions -- and one-twelfth of the world's. Yet the federal government clings to a backward funding formula: The more a state's residents drive, the more money that state receives. In fact, projected increases in automotive travel will release so much greenhouse gas by 2020 that environmental protections achieved through higher gas-mileage requirements and anticipated advances in low-emissions fuels will be completely negated.

A less visible danger is economic. Transportation costs, now the second-highest household expense, are pricing families out of the American dream -- preventing them from saving, buying homes or investing in their children's educations. A 2006 Center for Housing Policy report indicated that working families in large metropolitan areas spend nearly a third of their incomes on transportation. A study by the American Public Transportation Association clarifies the connection between these challenges and the country's critical need for investment in mass transit: Two of every three regular users of public transportation earn less than $50,000 a year. The federal government, meanwhile, directs only one of every five gas-tax dollars to automobile alternatives.

As we look to the future, we must expand affordable, accessible and environmentally sustainable transportation options: high-speed and light rail, rapid and mass transit, and walkable, bikeable streets. Washington must provide new incentives for states and cities to promote greener land use, cleaner cars and decreased automotive dependence.

Her op-ed seems designed to promote the America 2050 project which I'll confess to not being familiar with, but she's succeeding in piquing my interest and hopefully yours as well.

Photo by Flickr user paulkimo9 used under a Creative Commons license

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