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Surface Transportation: Efforts to Address Highway Congestion through Real-Time Traffic Information Systems Are Expanding but Face Implementation Challenges

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Growing congestion on our nation's roads results in wasted time and fuel, which adversely affects the economy and the environment. State and local government agencies and private companies disseminate real-time traffic information to help travelers decide whether to use alternative, less congested routes. Legislation enacted in 2005 required the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish the Real-Time System Management Information Program, in order to provide states the capability to monitor traffic and travel conditions on major highways and share that information. As requested, this GAO report addresses, among other things, (1) how the public and private sectors disseminate real-time traffic information to the public, (2) actions DOT has taken to establish the Real-Time System Management Information Program, and (3) experts' views on the need for a nationwide real-time traffic information system and its potential characteristics. To conduct this study, GAO visited sites in California and Florida, which have well-developed traffic information systems; reviewed and analyzed DOT reports and data; and interviewed transportation officials, experts, and other stakeholders. GAO is not making any recommendations at this time because DOT has not finalized the proposed rule it issued in January 2009, and there was no consensus from the experts GAO interviewed as to whether an increased federal role in this area is appropriate or what this role might be."
Date: November 30, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Strategies Are Available for Making Existing Road Infrastructure Perform Better

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "For the past several decades, the capacity of the nation's road network has not grown fast enough to keep pace with demand. The increasing congestion is apparent to millions of commuters and freight operators. Although road building is perhaps the most familiar antidote, Congress, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and transportation research have emphasized the need to more efficiently use the existing infrastructure as a means to control congestion. GAO was asked to examine various issues associated with increasing the efficient use of existing infrastructure. This report examines the following questions: (1) What factors inhibit the efficient use of the existing infrastructure of roads and highways? (2) What techniques have been developed for making the current infrastructure more efficient and what is known about the results? (3) How have local decision makers implemented these techniques? (4) What strategies exist for increasing the use of such techniques? To address these questions, GAO reviewed existing studies, examined efforts in five states, and sought transportation officials' views, among other things."
Date: July 26, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Moving into the 21st Century

Description: A staff study issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO provided information on the surface transportation challenges facing the nation in the 21st century. To understand these challenges and assess the potential direction surface transportation policy could take to address them, GAO sponsored a conference that brought together transportation experts to discuss the future of surface transportation in the United States."
Date: May 1, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Many Factors Affect Investment Decisions

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Passenger and freight traffic are expected to grow substantially in the future, generating additional congestion and requiring continued investment in the nation's surface transportation system. Over the past 12 years, the federal government has provided hundreds of billions of dollars for investment in surface transportation projects through the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and its successor legislation, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Reauthorization of this legislation is expected to provide hundreds of billions of dollars more in federal funding for surface transportation projects. For this investment to have the greatest positive effect, agencies at all levels of government need to select investments that yield the greatest benefits for a given level of cost. This report provides information about the processes that state and regional transportation decisionmakers use to analyze and select transportation infrastructure investments. GAO identified (1) key federal requirements for planning and deciding on such investments, (2) how benefit-cost analysis facilitates sound decisionmaking, and (3) other factors that decision-makers consider in evaluating and deciding on investments."
Date: June 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Principles Can Guide Efforts to Restructure and Fund Federal Programs

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The nation has reached a critical juncture with its current surface transportation policies and programs. Demand has outpaced the capacity of the system, resulting in increased congestion. In addition, without significant changes in funding levels or planned spending, the Highway Trust Fund--the major source of federal highway and transit funding-- is projected to incur significant deficits in the years ahead. Exacerbating concerns about the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund is the federal government's bleak fiscal condition and outlook. As a result, other federal revenue sources may not be available to help solve the nation's current transportation challenges. This statement is based on a body of work that GAO has completed over the past several years for Congress. This testimony discusses (1) GAO's recent findings on the structure and performance of the current surface transportation program (GAO-08-400), (2) a framework to assess proposals for restructuring of the surface transportation program, (3) potential options to fund investments in the surface transportation system, and (4) our recent findings on the benefits, costs, and trade-offs of using public-private partnerships to help fund transportation investments (GAO-08-44)."
Date: July 10, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation Security: TSA Has Taken Actions to Manage Risk, Improve Coordination, and Measure Performance, but Additional Actions Would Enhance Its Efforts

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Terrorist attacks on surface transportation facilities in Moscow, Mumbai, London, and Madrid caused casualties and highlighted the vulnerability of such systems. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the primary federal agency responsible for security of transportation systems. This testimony focuses on the extent to which (1) DHS has used risk management in strengthening surface transportation security, (2) TSA has coordinated its strategy and efforts for securing surface transportation with stakeholders, (3) TSA has measured the effectiveness of its surface transportation security-improvement actions, and (4) TSA has made progress in deploying surface transportation security inspectors and related challenges it faces in doing so. GAO's statement is based on public GAO products issued from January to June 2009, selected updates from September 2009 to April 2010, and ongoing work on pipeline security. For the updates and ongoing work, GAO analyzed TSA's pipeline risk assessment model, reviewed relevant laws and program management documents, and interviewed TSA officials."
Date: April 21, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation Programs: Proposals Highlight Key Issues and Challenges in Restructuring the Programs

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The nation's economic vitality and the quality of life of its citizens depend significantly on the availability, dependability, and security of its surface transportation network. Our nation has built a vast surface transportation system of roads, railways, ports, and transit systems that facilitate commerce and improve our quality of life. The flow of people and goods is enormous: The nation moved about 5 trillion ton miles of freight and 5 trillion passenger miles of people in 2004. In total, about 4 million miles of roads, 117,000 miles of rail, 600,000 bridges, 19,000 airports, 11,000 miles of transit lines, and 500 train stations make up the surface transportation network. For the past several decades, demand has outpaced the capacity of the surface transportation system, and population growth, technological change, and the increased globalization of the economy will further strain the system. For example, according to the Transportation Research Board, an expected population growth of 100 million people could double the demand for passenger travel. Moreover, this population growth will be concentrated in certain regions and states, intensifying the demand for transportation in these areas. Likewise, freight traffic is projected to grow substantially, putting additional strain on ports, highways, and railroads. Furthermore, as we have recently reported, federal surface transportation programs are not effectively addressing key challenges, such as congestion, or ensuring that transportation dollars are well spent, because federal goals and roles are unclear, many programs lack links to needs or performance, and the programs often do not employ the best tools and approaches. As a result, we and others have called for a fundamental reexamination and refocusing of the nation's surface transportation policies--and we have recommended that Congress consider restructuring these programs so that they (1) have goals ...
Date: July 29, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Preliminary Observations on Efforts to Restructure Current Program

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The nation has reached a critical juncture with its current surface transportation policies and programs. Demand has outpaced the capacity of the system, resulting in increased congestion. In addition, without significant changes in funding mechanisms, revenue sources, or planned spending, the Highway Trust Fund--the major source of federal highway and transit funding--is projected to incur significant deficits in the years ahead. Furthermore, the nation is on a fiscally unsustainable path. Recognizing many of these challenges and the importance of the transportation system to the nation, Congress established The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (Commission) to examine current and future needs of the system and recommend needed changes to the surface transportation program, among other things. The Commission issued its report in January 2008. This testimony discusses 1) principles to assess proposals for restructuring the surface transportation program and 2) GAO's preliminary observations on the Commission's recommendations. This statement is based on GAO's ongoing work for the Ranking Member of this Committee, the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senator DeMint, as well as a body of work GAO has completed over the past several years for Congress."
Date: February 6, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Issues Related to Preserving Inactive Rail Lines as Trails

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on rail banking, which refers to the preservation of inactive rail lines as trails, focusing on: (1) the implementation process for rail banking, including whether it protects the various interests of landowners, communities, rail carriers, and those interested in converting the rights-of-ways to trails; (2) the extent to which rail-banked property has returned to use as rail lines and the potential for future reactivation of rights-of-way for rail service; and (3) whether rail banking facilitates the return of these rights-of-way to rail service."
Date: October 18, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Financing Program Could Benefit from Increased Performance Focus and Better Communication

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Projects that received credit assistance through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT), tend to be large, high-cost highway projects. As of April 2012, DOT has executed 27 TIFIA credit agreements for 26 projects with project sponsors such as state DOTs and transit agencies. Overall, DOT has provided nearly $9.1 billion in credit assistance through 26 loans and one loan guarantee. By mode, there are 17 highway, 5 transit, and 4 intermodal projects. Most projects have a total cost of over $1 billion. DOT monitors individual credit agreements but does not systematically assess whether its TIFIA portfolio as a whole is achieving the program’s goals of leveraging federal funds and encouraging private co-investment. DOT has identified goals and objectives for the TIFIA program, but its limited use of performance measures makes it difficult to determine the degree to which the program is meeting these goals and objectives. Given that DOT already collects project data, it could use these data to better evaluate the program’s overall progress toward meeting its goals."
Date: June 21, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Competitive Grant Programs Could Benefit from Increased Performance Focus and Better Documentation of Key Decisions

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) appropriated $1.5 billion for discretionary grants for capital investments in surface transportation projects of national and regional significance, including highways, transit, rail, ports, and others. The act required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop criteria to award these grants--known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants--and to meet several statutory requirements. GAO was asked to review (1) the criteria and process used to evaluate applications and award grants, (2) the outcome of the process, and (3) the extent to which DOT communicated information to applicants and the public. GAO reviewed documentation of the award process and selection documentation and interviewed key DOT officials."
Date: March 30, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Clear Federal Role and Criteria-Based Selection Process Could Improve Three National and Regional Infrastructure Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "To help meet increasing transportation demands, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) created three programs to invest federal funds in national and regional transportation infrastructure. As requested, this report provides (1) an overview of the goals, funding status, and types of projects and activities funded by the three programs; (2) advantages and challenges identified by program stakeholders; and (3) potential program enhancements. GAO reviewed pertinent federal laws and rules; examined plans for selected projects; conducted site visits; and interviewed officials, stakeholders, and experts."
Date: February 6, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Surface Transportation: Restructured Federal Approach Needed for More Focused, Performance-Based, and Sustainable Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Surface transportation programs need to be reexamined in the context of the nation's current unsustainable fiscal path. Surface transportation programs are particularly ready for review as the Highway Trust Fund faces a fiscal imbalance at a time when both congestion and travel demand are growing. As you requested, this report (1) provides an overview of the federal role in surface transportation and the goals and structures of federal programs, (2) summarizes GAO's conclusions about the structure and performance of these programs, and (3) provides principles to assess options for focusing future surface transportation programs. GAO's study is based on prior GAO reports, stakeholder reports and interviews, Department of Transportation documents, and the views of transportation experts."
Date: March 6, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department