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U.S. Transportation Infrastructure is Roadblock to Economic Growth

An army may travel on its stomach, but America’s economy travels on its highways, railroads and runways. And the pace at which America’s infrastructure is deteriorating is having a measurable impact on the U.S. economy.

That’s the finding of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Transportation Performance Indexes,” released last week.  The index showed a significant decline over the last five years in how the nation’s transportation infrastructure is serving the needs of domestic commerce, international trade and the overall U.S. economy .

The survey combines indicators of supply, quality of service and potential for future growth across all modes of passenger and freight transportation — highway, public transportation, freight railroad, aviation and intermodal — to show how well the U.S. transportation system is serving the needs of business and the economy.

The index reveals a clear downward trend from 2003 to 2008, demonstrating that the performance of our transportation system is not keeping pace with the demands on that system. Over the period of the index, the performance of the transportation system increased only 6 percent, while the U.S. population grew by 22 percent, passenger travel grew by 39 percent and freight traffic increased by 27 percent.

“As our economy recovers, the nation’s transportation infrastructure must be prepared to meet the projected growth in freight and population,” said Thomas J. Donahue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “In fact, a ten-point improvement in the new national transportation could generate 3 percent more growth in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Our index, however, shows that from now through 2015 there will
be a rapid decline in the performance of the system if we continue business as usual. Right now we’re on an unsustainable path.”

The nation’s deteriorating infrastructure is placing a major drag on the economy , Donahue said.

“We must focus on improving the way transportation delivers for business, removing barriers to maintaining, modernizing and expanding our nation’s transportation infrastructure, and driving increased public and private investment,” he said.

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Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com.  Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.