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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 61· No. 3 > Editor's Notes

Nov/Dec 1997
Vol. 61· No. 3

Editor's Notes

In a speech at the North American Intermodal Transportation Summit in Denver, Colo., Oct. 17, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater outlined the focus of transportation for the future.

"In the last half of this century, you could describe transportation in one word -- Interstate. It connected cities. It made manufacturers more competitive. It grew the suburbs. It brought jobs to millions. If 40 years ago, our leaders had not imagined how we could change the face of America with a highway, we would not be the mobile, prosperous country we are.

"I say to you, clearly, it is our turn. It is up to us to visualize transportation in the 21st century. A century when information superhigh- ways will deliver products to homes or offices around the world faster than a plane or train ever will.... A century where a larger percentage of federal dollars will go to fix -- rather than expand -- our infrastructure, making it more environmentally acceptable and safer than today. A century where ships will be bigger; buses, lighter; planes and trains, faster; and technology that has yet to be developed will have effects we cannot imagine.

"So how should we define in the 21st century a system that dominates as the big I -- the Interstate -- did in this century. I like to define it like this. It is important that it be an integrated system. That it be international in reach, intermodal in form, intelligent in character, and inclusive in service. The four new I's....

"Why must it be intermodal in form? Because unless we bring highways, transit, rail, airports, and seaports together, we will not he as efficient as we need to be.... Why intelligent? We need smarter highways. And we need cars that do the driving. When people drive, they make mistakes that lead to accidents.... And let me say any integrated transportation system must be inclusive. We (the secretaries of transportation for Canada, Mexico, and the United States) come here representing 400 million people. Whether they live in suburban, urban, rural, or along the borders of our countries, clearly all must benefit."

The focus and interests of the Federal Highway Administration can also be described by the four I's, and several of those interests are represented by the articles in this issue of Public Roads.

In this issue, we continue from the last issue the discussion of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). This time, however, we're looking more specifically at the Automated Highway System -- "cars that do the driving" and offer the potential for increased safety and efficiency -- and "inclusive" applications of ITS technologies for travelers in rural areas and for commercial vehicle operations. The international dimension is also represented by articles on the FHWA scanning program, our friendly competition with Europe, and ITS in Japan. And we have a couple of articles related to environmental stewardship. Recently, the Internet search engine Lycos included the web site of FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in Lycos' "Top 5 Percent" of government web sites. In describing the contents of the TFHRC web site, Lycos said, "More interesting than you'd think."

It seems to me that this is the way most Americans would view the work of FHWA if they were more familiar with the incredible scope and diversity of FHWA and its accomplishments. At Public Roads, it is a continuing joy, as well as a mission, to tell the FHWA story because what we do is really "more interesting than (most) think."

Bob Bryant

Editor

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