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Press Releases :: June 24, 2008

Panel Explores Ways to Reduce Transportation Costs, Environmental Impact Through Improved Infrastructure

(Washington, DC)  The House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to review ongoing research and development related to surface transportation infrastructure, which include roads, freeways, and networks of stoplights, with the goal of improving sustainability and energy efficiency. The Subcommittee heard testimony from federal, state, academic, and industry representatives on their efforts to promote implementation of innovative technologies and materials that reduce carbon emissions and cut fuel use.

“The cause of rising gas prices is another debate, but one thing we all agree on is that we must take action to help reduce the cost of transportation for families across the country,” said Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR).  “We can reduce fuel consumption and promote sustainability through changes to the transportation infrastructure.”

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, congestion alone accounted for 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel in 2007. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that five percent of that congestion is due to poorly timed traffic signals. If intelligent transportation systems (ITS) could eliminate congestion due to poor signal timing, that’s a potential fuel savings of 145 million gallons of fuel per year.

Innovations in transportation infrastructure and technology that will both lessen the impact on the environment and make driving more enjoyable include: pavements that incorporate waste materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills; traffic signal timing systems that cut congestion; and monitoring devices that can warn drivers to take an alternate route around jams. Many of these technologies could be implemented quickly and would have an immediate impact on fuel consumption.

Witnesses told the Subcommittee that traffic congestion leads to a loss of economic productivity, wasted fuel, and the rising cost of goods.  Witnesses also testified that combining these technologies in innovative ways and integrating them into our multimodal transportation system will save lives, time, and resources— reducing energy and fuel usage, emissions, noise pollution, and more.

“The Committee on Science and Technology plans to play an important role in defining our transportation research priorities for the future,” said Wu.  “Sustainability and energy efficiency are no longer just buzzwords in the transportation community—they are crucial components of a working national transportation infrastructure. Building more roads is not the answer. We must use our resources carefully and wisely, and that requires a commitment to reducing the creation of new materials and cutting fuel use.”

For more information, please see the Committee website.



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