Modal Shifts to Relieve Global Gridlock

In the forward to a recent National Governors Association report, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell offered the following assessment of our nation’s infrastructure: “Despite its importance, America’s infrastructure has not kept pace with our country’s growing and shifting demands and the changing world around us. A growing pattern of underinvestment and uncoordinated planning has led to a range of concerns that are felt across the country; including wide spread congestion, unsafe bridges … More broadly, we have created a system that leaves us dependent on imported oil, vulnerable to rising energy prices, and ill-equipped to address the challenges of climate change”.1

The executive summary goes on to add that “America’s current infrastructure investments are also not keeping pace with our global competitors.” It goes on to cite that China invests 9 to 12 percent of GDP, India and the European Union invests 5 percent and Japan consistently invests 10 percent of GDP. The U.S. spends only about 2.6 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009 awarded our own country’s infrastructure a D rating and estimated that we need at least $2.2 trillion over five years to bring our infrastructure up to a passable B level.

Lack of infrastructure spending exacts a heavy toll with over $200.0 billion in annual net economic losses due to congestion including 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel and 4.2 billion man hours of time. The situation is so dire that 94 percent of the American public has expressed a growing concern about the condition of the nation’s infrastructure. 

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