New report: Nation’s mayors say cities should invest more in transportation

By David Pendered

A  new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon the nation’s metropolitan areas to increase their investment in transportation.

U.S. Conference of Mayors, transportation report

The nation’s cities should invest more in their transportation systems, in part to promote economic development. Credit: U.S. Conference of Mayors

The report presents a view from 30,000 feet and says nothing about where the money for construction is to come from and little about transit. It doesn’t say a word about metro Atlanta’s upcoming vote on a proposed 1 percent transportation sales tax, nor does it mention any of more than two dozen transportation referendums on ballots this year across the country.

But the 116-page report is choc full of interesting facts and forecasts about metro Atlanta (and other cities) that could help voters decide how to mark their ballots on the July 31 referendum. A few highlights include:

  • Atlanta and Dallas are tied for 11th in the cost of congestion for in 2010 – $924 annually for each driver (This is the same dollar amount used in advertising by the sales tax campaign);
  • The average annual congestion cost in U.S. cities is $713 for each driver;
  • Congestion costs are highest in big urban areas and top $1,000 annually for each driver in cities including, the report says, “Washington, Baltimore, and New York on the East Coast; Chicago in the Midwest; Houston in the South; and Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast.”
  • Metro Atlanta is expected to remain the nation’s sixth-largest metro area in 2042, the same rank it holds today;
  • To achieve that rank, the forecast presumes metro Atlanta’s population will grow by almost 68 percent during the next 30 years – making it the nation’s third-highest in terms of projected growth rate;
  • Atlanta ranks 10th in gross metropolitan production, with almost $284 billion reported in 2011.

These are the sorts of insights that emerge from a report that focuses on the relation between gross metropolitan product and what it calls, “the critical roll of transportation infrastructure.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed chairs the transportation committee of the mayor’s conference and did not issue a formal statement when the report was released July 19 at a conference in Philadelphia.

Click here to see the full report and related documents.

The report that more than two dozen other transportation referendums are on the ballot in 2012 comes from the Center for Transportation Excellence. CFTE reports that a total of 27 measures are slated, but the figure does not include – for example – any of the 12 referenda on the July 31 ballot other than the one in metro Atlanta. CFTE describes itself as an organization committed to promoting transit.

Click here to read for about CFTE’s count of transit-related elections.

The report’s conclusion is similar to other analysis’ of the nation’s transportation system. The report’s concluding statement begins:

“There is no magic bullet to curing the nation’s infrastructure deficiencies. Metros will continue to lead the nation in population, employment, and overall economic growth, which will put further strain on infrastructure in areas that are already congested.”

And the conclusion ends with this statement:

“If the nation fails to dramatically increase its investment in transportation infrastructure, it will see congestion and its costs on families, commuters and businesses skyrocket, potentially doubling over the coming decade alone.”


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

3 replies
  1. Avatar
    RussellCampbell says:

    We must begin the work now to improve our ailing transportation infrastructure.  A yes vote for the passage of the Regional Transportation Referendum will mean an improved light rail transit system, the continued use of mobility options such as GRTA Xpress and the completion of necessary road improvement projects around the city.

  2. Avatar
    swapnilramani says:

    With the growing use of the transportation services for freight forwarding and almost every sector has shown an urgent need to improve the overall transportation structure of the economy, And yes a positive vote for the Tranportation referandum which aims at improivng light rail transport system
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