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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-004    Date:  Summer 2018
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-004
Issue No: Vol. 82 No. 2
Date: Summer 2018


Guest Editorial

Building the Future

Photo. Headshot of Elaine L. Chao, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation.As we celebrate the centennial issue of PUBLIC ROADS magazine, I hope we’ll all take some time to reflect on the vital role our transportation infrastructure plays in the American story.

Our highways, roads, and bridges serve as the backbone of our country. Every day, America’s transportation networks provide citizens with access to work, medical care, and other services in their communities.

America’s road network has grown substantially since the Bureau of Public Roads was first established in 1918. There are more than twice as many drivers today as there were half a century ago and almost three times as many vehicles.

Unfortunately, much of our transportation system is overwhelmed by the growing demand of America’s drivers, passengers, and freight system. Traffic congestion and delays are costing drivers nearly $160 billion annually, while about one-quarter of our Nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or in need of improvement. More than 20 percent of our roads are in poor condition, limiting the ability of our economy to reach its full potential. The transportation needs of rural America, where a disproportionately high percentage of our Nation’s highway fatalities are occurring, have been neglected.

For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with 12 other agencies, is proud to support President Donald Trump’s Infrastructure Initiative.

The Administration’s guiding principles for revitalizing our Nation’s transportation system include using Federal dollars as seed money to incentivize broader infrastructure investment, providing for the needs of rural communities, streamlining the permitting process to speed up project delivery, and reducing unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations through regulatory reform.

The Administration is especially committed to empowering decision making at the State and local levels because local officials have the best knowledge of their communities’ infrastructure needs. USDOT is putting these principles into practice. The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant programs place a renewed emphasis on the needs of communities, especially those communities in rural areas that have been left behind for far too long.

The Department is making progress in our efforts to streamline the permitting process to help speed up project delivery. We are implementing the President’s “One Federal Decision” initiative through a Memorandum of Understanding signed this spring. All of the organizations involved are working on a new process to handle the permitting of complicated, multiagency projects within the President’s new expedited timeline and to operationalize this agreement. One Federal Decision means less paperwork and more timely improvements that will better protect the environment and our quality of life.

In addition to streamlining the permitting process, we are working to implement regulatory reform at USDOT. Regulatory reform is contributing to economic growth by removing unnecessary burdens on job creators. To understand how the Administration’s policies have led to our booming economy, regulatory reform is a good place to start. It has been done without compromising safety or other congressionally mandated objectives.

In 2017, the Department decreased regulatory costs by $312 million and it is on track to reduce the cost of regulations by more than $500 million in 2018.

A robust road system enabled our country to grow into the great Nation it is today. It is the duty of USDOT to ensure that the United States has the safest roadways possible not only for this generation, but for future generations as well.

Elaine L. Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation




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