In two states 3,000 miles apart, referendums that would fund transportation efforts, in part, were on the ballot this election cycle. Voters made their choice on Proposition 30 in California and Question 1 in Massachusetts. Both referendums sought to increase the tax rate on each state’s highest earners, but only one was successful.
Streamlined grant procedures can make competitive funding fairer
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a more than $850 billion historic investment in support of state and local government work to increase access and safety while redressing inequities across the country. However, a recent article by Brookings contributors Ellory Monks and Shalini Vajjhala points out that the existing structure of federal and state grant application processes may inhibit the fair allocation of the funds.
States can target key transportation issues with federal infrastructure funds
The much-anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was finally signed by President Biden on Monday, and state DOTs are preparing for what will amount to around 50 percent more transportation spending than originally planned for over the next five years. The act includes an additional $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for safety, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for freight and passenger rail (a five-fold increase).
Underreported crashes are a barrier to making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians
Transportation agencies often rely on police generated crash reports for improving roadway design and making streets safer for all users. A recent study from Washington, D.C., however, found that almost one in three car crashes involving a cyclist or a pedestrian goes unreported. With such a wide gap in data, it is quite possible agencies don’t fully understand the real risks pedestrians and cyclists—the most vulnerable users—face, let alone address those risks.
Bike facilities often follow income gains, not the other way around
A new study found little evidence that new bike infrastructure leads to displacement of low-income households or people of color, despite the two sometimes being linked in public discourse. The data reveal some bias toward mostly white neighborhoods in terms of where new facilities are installed, but sharrows, or markings that indicate a preferred bicycle route, account for more of the difference than separated bike lanes.
Small investments can go a long way towards safer, inclusive streets
There is a growing public clamor for better access by people to the places where they live, work, and spend their recreational time. However, a majority of transportation investments are spent on moving people through places, typically by driving.
Perception and psychology may explain why drivers speed when volume is low
Changed travel behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced congestion and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), even while traffic deaths continue to rise. Evidence shows that open roads, speeding, and other dangerous driving behaviors go hand-in-hand. But what is it about people that leads them to speed and drive dangerously in the first place?
Three steps toward smarter transportation investments
A new study by SSTI with researchers from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looks at transportation project prioritization programs at 21 agencies across the U.S. The study identifies three overarching strategies to better align investments with policy goals: 1) establishing flexible funding programs; 2) evaluating key outcomes; and 3) maximizing benefits per dollar spent.
Transportation professionals call for improved standards
As the window closes for comments on the eleventh edition of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)—the national standard governing all traffic control devices—strong criticism of the manual is coming from industry professionals and safety advocates alike.
Room for improvement in assessing equity in regional TIPs
Many Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have placed a greater emphasis on equity in their regional planning over the past few years, but that emphasis doesn’t always translate to direct changes at the project level. Transportation Research Record examined how well MPOs serving the 40 largest metro areas in the U.S. incorporate equity criteria in project prioritization decisions for their Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs) and recommend a broader shift in how MPOs approach equity in project prioritization to reframe transportation inequities in terms of injustices.