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Taking the Future Seriously: Towards a More Sustainable Highway Transportation System

Executive Summary

 America’s transportation infrastructure is strained to the point of limited functionality. Highways are a critical component of the U.S. transportation infrastructure, and achieving a sustainable highway transportation system has emerged as one of the most urgent issues at all levels of government. In this paper, an introduction of sustainable transportation is presented. Taking highway transportation as a case, the author concentrates on discussing the current challenges associated with the four dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic, financial and social. Finally, the author concludes with an integrated set of policy suggestions to promote highway sustainability.

Introduction

America’s transportation infrastructure is strained to the point of limited functionality. Increased ridership and constrained fiscal resources have caused many state and federal transportation departments to become concerned with the future of America’s roads (Kemp, 2005). As the U.S. Government Accountability Office (2008) reports, “The nation faces a host of serious challenges. Demand has outpaced the capacity of our nation’s surface transportation…resulting in decreased performance and reliability” (p. 3). Meeting future transportation infrastructure needs has emerged as one of the most urgent issues at all levels of government. In this essay, an overview of sustainable transportation is presented, followed by a discussion of current challenges along the four dimensions of highway sustainability: environmental, economic, financial and social. At the end, the author contends that a sustainable approach to highway transportation necessitates an integrated set of policies and institutional changes for long-term reform.      

To view the rest of Can Chen’s research, click here.

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Author: Can Chen is a third year doctoral student of public administration from University of Nebraska at Omaha. His primary research fields are transportation economics and finance, capital budgeting, and state and local financial management. His current research focuses on examining the fiscal impacts of innovative transportation finance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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