Towards a Vision for the Nation's Surface Transportation System

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by Michael Meyer, P.E., Professor and Director, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Throughout history, the ability to move people and goods effectively and efficiently has been a prerequisite for a nation's success and economic health. The history of the United States is particularly symbolic of this symbiotic relationship between transportation system capacity and national prosperity. However,since the completion of the interstate highway program,  there is no longer an agreed-upon vision of what the nation's transportation system should be accomplishing, and perhaps even more importantly in recent years, what the respective roles should be for different levels of government and between the public and private sectors.

This paper discusses what a national vision should include and how the characteristics of this vision relate to the rapidly changing context within which a national transportation system operates. In particular, this paper provides a perspective on what policies and investments should be pursued to shape America's transportation policy in the 21st century.