Intelligent transportation, intelligent investment

| December 8, 2009

Investment in intelligent transportation is critical as Congress works toward developing a jobs bill to address the current unemployment level.

That’s the sentiment of Scott Belcher, CEO and president, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, in The Hill’s Congress Blog.

Belcher is spot on. Infrastructure is one of the areas that should receive major investment when job development is underway. Why? Because infrastructure is something we’ll be able to show future generations for the massive amount of debt that we’re in.

When saddling the next generations with trillions of dollars in debt,we want to have something to show for it, don’t we? Plus, the obvious reason is what we should all already know: our infrastructure is crumbling. And for one of the richest nations in the world (yes–although we have a crappy economy right now, but we’re still one of the richest nations in the world.), we have an embarassingly bad infrastructure.

It needs massive investment. Money needs to be put forward for it. And that includes investing specifically in intelligent transportation.

Belcher says investment in intelligent transportationwill “modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure and improve the performance of our multi-modal transportation systems.” I couldn’t agree more.

We’re in a digital age, and we need to move our infrastructure investment into the 21st century (in my opinion, we’re not there yet) and prepare for the future of intelligent transportation. Some of this investment includes high-tech traffic and freight management systems, synchronized and adaptive traffic signals, smart transit systems, electronic tolling systems, weigh-in-motion truck inspections, ramp metering, advanced condition assessment technologies, and real-time traffic, transit and parking information. 

“Investing in ITS will create new jobs quicklybecause these technologies can be deployed without a lot of new construction or right-of-way issues,” Belcher writes in the blog. “And 50 percent of every dollar spent on ITS deployment goes directly to wages and salaries, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).”

“Consider that an investment of $1.2 billion to deploy and operate real-time traffic information programs in all 50 states and the nation’s largest 50 cities would not only create new jobs and spur economic growth, but would also generate more than $30 billion in safety, mobility, and environmental benefits to the public, according to a newly-released GAO study,” he continues.

The future of ITS and its positive impact on our national economy are significant, Belcher notes. According to him, the U.S. DOT projects that the field of ITS could create almost 600,000 new jobs during the next 20 years.  With a federal commitment to ITS deployment, these figures could be significantly higher. 

We need to create new jobs. We need to improve our infrastructure. And we need to be smart about it. Let’s move forward with intelligent transportation and make advances where they need to be.

I know I like to be smart about my money, and I sure as heck want my nation’s infrastructure to be advancing the way it should.

What about you? What do you think?

I think we should work smarter. To me, it’s the intelligent thing to do.


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