Public investments in our nation’s infrastructure have been an important aspect of our American heritage. As a result, many citizens view it as their right to travel freely on the country’s roads and bridges. But urban traffic congestion is taking a significant economic toll on commuters, with the Texas Transportation Institute estimating in 2005 that the average peak-period motorist spends an extra 38 hours of travel time and consumes an additional 26 gallons of fuel annually. The result is an estimated cost to these urban commuters of approximately $710 per year.
Brookings’ Hamilton Project and Metropolitan Policy Program hosted a discussion on the merits and potential barriers to congestion pricing as a tool for combating urban gridlock. Brookings Fellow Robert Puentes provided an overview of the national transportation landscape and David Lewis, senior vice president with HDR Decision Economics, discussed his proposal for a coordinated federal-state policy framework for congestion pricing. A panel of experts discussed the proposal in the context of the current national debate.
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America’s Traffic Congestion Problem: Toward a Framework for Nationwide Reform, by David Lewis
Associate Director for Energy and Climate Change
Staff Director, House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure
Director of Transportation Planning, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Bruce Katz, of the Brookings Institution, said [land mapping] is not just about "real estate," but about access "to a talent pool." "Automobiles are essentially computers on wheels," said Katz, who focuses on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. "The broader Detroit area is one of the greatest hubs of technological innovation around manufacturing."
"There is enormous opportunity for a smarter use of public assets in the cores of cities around anchors like waterfronts and research institutions."