Transportation accounts for 70% of oil use, and much attention is being focused on improving vehicle technology (hybrids, clean diesel, etc.). However, much of fuel waste occurs in local stop & go traffic and other congestion. This also results in increased carbon emissions, plus loss of productivity (lost wages and quality of life). In the Chicago area, near-continual repair of roads and expressways means perpetual lane closures and delays. Meanwhile, dated traffic signal systems cause cars to wait at intersections even when there is no cross traffic. The problem: state DOTs have no incentive to use their meager road maintenance budgets to worry about national interests like reduced energy & emissions -- they need every cent to just maintain/build roads regardless of negative side effects. Local communities also have no incentive to use shrinking budgets to buy intelligent traffic signals that improve traffic flow, especially with tax revenues down. Doing what's good for the nation as a whole is often at odds with being good stewards of local resources. Meanwhile, America imports 1.5 billion barrels of oil per year from “dangerous or unstable” countries alone at a cost of about $150 billion, which releases 640.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere... Congestion costs the nation around $70B/year in lost productivity, and even more in congested-related accident costs. THIS IS A FEDERAL POLICY PROBLEM! How about smart, enlightened policies that reward local and state agencies for developing and maintaining infrastructure that also serves national interests. If we can reduce accidents, energy consumption, and emissions with a small, federal plus-up to local budgets, we’ll get a good return on investment.
Idea No. 71