AASHTO Journal

ITS America Prods Congress to Stabilize Trust Fund, Boost Technology Investment

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America is calling on Congress to include several features in any infrastructure investment bill, including "investments to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund" and more resources for high-technology systems.

In letters on March 5 to leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Feb. 28 to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, ITS America CEO Shailen Bhatt told lawmakers that "investment in far-sighted intelligent transportation technologies will enable scarce infrastructure funds to reach farther and with longer-lasting results."

Bhatt emphasized the value of technologies now coming to the marketplace. "The nation is entering a technology revolution that will define the way people, goods, and services move for decades to come," he wrote. "It is a new transportation era as dramatic as the period where the car supplanted the horse and buggy."

ITSlogo-inside.jpgHe added that "the nation must deploy intelligent transportation technologies on a large scale to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy," and said "ITS America believes the infrastructure plan is the vehicle to increase the nation's investment in the transportation technologies that will shape mobility for decades to come."

The letters went to those committees ahead of hearings they held on President Trump's infrastructure proposals, and as lawmakers on those panels begin to discuss how they will shape transportation legislation on project investments.

ITS America urged Congress to leverage existing programs by adding funds to programs lawmakers authorized in 2015 in the five-year Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. The group noted that "intelligent transportation technologies, including vehicle-to-infrastructure, are eligible uses of most FAST Act highway program funds."

The group proposed that lawmakers create new funding for "emerging technologies that support congestion relief," and distribute such extra funds through both formula programs and competitive grants. "Examples include priced managed lanes; transportation demand management programs; strategic transit investments; advanced parking, freight delivery, and incident management systems; and programs to support the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technologies."

It urged lawmakers to "provide new and long-term investments" for the trust fund, increase funding for intelligent transportation technologies, and "use a multifaceted approach to leveraging public and private resources."

It further proposed that Congress build on the U.S. Department of Transportation's popular 2015 Smart Cities Challenge by including in an infrastructure bill "new federal funding to expand opportunities for communities – large and small/urban and rural – to compete for resources that will fund innovative and sustainable smart transportation projects."

It also urged support for increasing the development of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure through "federal and state incentive projects as well as public-private partnerships.

And it called for Congress to "develop additional opportunities for broadband deployment . . . to support the deployment of intelligent transportation applications that depend on connectivity."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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