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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 66 · No. 6 > Editor's Notes

May/June 2003
Vol. 66 · No. 6

Editor's Notes

Delivering Service in the Field

Safer, Simpler, Smarter: A Vision for the Future of Transportation

Our Nation relies on transportation for security, economic prosperity, and quality of life. Safety is a top priority, and because we travel by many different modes of transportation, seamless transitions between those modes is the reason that travel is easy, convenient, and efficient. At the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), we want to continue to improve our surface transportation system, and I would like to take a few minutes to describe what DOT is doing now to achieve that goal.

Looking ahead, the Department has developed a vision for a surface transportation system that is safer, simpler, and smarter. It will be safer because we are placing a greater emphasis on saving lives and reducing accidents than ever before, simpler because we want to consolidate and streamline programs and improve project delivery, and smarter because our focus is on improving system performance and accountability.

These guiding principles provide the foundation for the DOT's legislative proposal for surface transportation reauthorizationÑthis Administration's effort to renew and advance the principles established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). TEA-21 will expire at the end of fiscal year 2003.

These laws represent landmarks in the history of transportation in the United States. They provided for innovation and major investment in our infrastructure. Working with Congress to develop follow-on legislation is one of our most important priorities this year.

The DOT set out to develop the Bush Administration's legislative proposal last fall by seeking ideas from transportation stakeholders and the public. Throughout the process, our efforts were animated by 14 principles, including the following:

  • Increase funding flexibility for State and local authorities to make effective program investments.
  • Continue to encourage innovative financing tools to extend the reach of our Department's transportation investments.
  • Make efficient environmental review processes a priority and continue to implement the President's executive order on stewardship of the environment, which seeks accelerated environmental reviews for individual projects.
  • Improve the efficiency of freight transportation networksÑa crucial driver of our Nation's economy.
  • Continue FHWA's and the DOT's strong emphasis on public transportation and help States and communities by simplifying transit programs.
  • Foster a seamless transportation network.
  • Emphasize consolidating and expanding Federal safety programs.

Above all, we are committed to transportation safety. More than 40,000 people perished in traffic crashes every year for the last 10 years. Almost one out of fourÑmore than 9,000 livesÑcould be saved annually if more Americans would Òbuckle up.Ó To help reduce these tragic figures, the President's budget for fiscal year 2004 significantly increases our Department's investment in highway safety.

The Administration will work closely with Congress, stakeholders, States, and communities throughout the year to develop a vision suited to the transportation needs of our times. As readers of Public Roads, you are particularly important because so many of you will be directly responsible for implementing laws that the President signs. We look forward to keeping you informed not only about the future of surface transportation legislation but also about other issues that we face as we advance into the new millennium.

Mary E. Peters

FHWA Administrator

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