DOT unveils proposal to tackle traffic congestion

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on Monday that outlines new requirements for state transportation agencies to collect and use better data on travel times and to monitor the performance of the nation’s highways.

The move is part of the agency’s effort to improve congestion. DOT said the proposal will provide greater consistency in how states measure traffic congestion, which can benefit both commuters and the freight industry. 

{mosads}The rule would require states to evaluate, report and set targets on transportation system performance, including travel time reliability, delay hours, peak-hour congestion, freight movement and on-road emissions.

The 2012 transportation bill directed the Federal Highway Administration to draft regulations on monitoring, reporting and improving performance in those areas.

“Commuters and truck drivers from every state and region will be able to learn valuable information about how transportation investments are performing in delivering reliable highway travel with minimal delays and less air pollution,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are also taking a hard look at how to track progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and I’m looking forward to what we hear back on this important topic.”

The department is also seeking comment on whether and how states and regional organizations that receive federal dollars should track how planned projects would contribute to carbon pollution and set goals for cutting transportation-related emissions.

“Expecting planners to think about air quality and health goes to the heart of what it means to plan, so this is a promising first step,” said Deron Lovaas, senior policy advisor with the urban solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If the final rule makes this a requirement, it could improve quality of life and help slow, stop and reverse climate change.”

Several states and cities, including California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Seattle, the Twin Cities and Chicago, already take carbon pollution into account when planning transportation projects.

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