Preview: Key recommendations for transportation in our region
Transportation systems are the backbone of a strong local economy, allowing people and goods to move efficiently and effectively. At its core, transportation infrastructure is no different than any other type of public or private good and is subject to the law of supply and demand.
In the case of traffic congestion, the demand for road travel exceeds the supply of roads, or capacity, the result of which leads to lost time, lost fuel and excess pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
Traffic congestion may also lead to capping growth and access while limiting labor markets. In essence, the number of available jobs, available workforce, and accessible services is limited by both distance and time. The more traffic congestion, the fewer opportunities to participate in the economy.
Freedom of mobility allows the public to travel wherever and however they choose with no - or minimal - restrictions. In recent decades, many public officials have waged campaigns to "discourage" certain modes, like cars, by implementing regressive tolling schemes, limiting parking, taking travel lanes away from drivers, and increasing traffic congestion to push people to other modes of transport or eliminate trips entirely.
Instead, public officials should work to accommodate travel demand instead of restricting or manipulating it, thereby providing the public fair access to goods and services across the region.
Where public assistance is needed, it should be delivered quickly, safely, and efficiently, and managed conservatively with strong budgets and planning toward the future. Threatening service cuts in the absence of higher tax rates does little to build certainty among those most vulnerable in our society.
Policymakers should focus on three key principles, which will not only benefit travelers, but freight movers and suppliers. Agricultural states like ours benefit immensely when goods and services can flow and strengthen regional economies over our competition.
NOTE: "The Path" will be released on Thursday, January 19th.