Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty told a Senate committee in Washington, D.C., Friday that traffic congestion is the most important issue facing American transportation today and urged Congress to assist local governments in developing affordable congestion mitigation strategies.
Haggerty testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), on behalf of the National Association of Counties (NACo). He used Alameda County as a prime example of an area challenged by mobility and congestion issues.
"In many metropolitan areas we have constrained mobility and increasing congestion," said Haggerty, who chairs NACo's Transportation Steering Committee.
"We know that many commuters and freight carriers traveling in or through metro regions do not know how long it will take to reach their destination," he said. "We know that the delays in these trips are costly, harm the environment, hurt America's commerce and seem to get longer each year."
To help address the issue, Haggerty said NACo is urging Congress to create a Metropolitan Mobility Program as part of the reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program. Highway and road safety issues in metro and rural areas must be considered in the reauthorization as well, he said.
"Given that breakdowns and accidents are responsible for an estimated 50 percent of congestion, incident management should be considered a priority in the new reauthorization," Haggerty said. "An incentive grant program should be created. This could lead to improved cooperation among state, county and city governments in developing strategies to quickly identify and act to remove vehicles from the roadways."
Haggerty also urged the committee to retain both the Federal Highway Bridge Program and the Off-System Bridge set aside; expand the High Risk Rural Road Safety Program; and improve project delivery, particularly for the many less complicated and smaller projects, through a streamlined process.
Haggerty is chair of the San Francisco Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which covers nine counties in the Bay area with a total population of more than 7 million residents.
Haggerty's statement to Congress can be found here.