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Close to 16 billion tons of freight, with a value of nearly $11 trillion, were hauled along the United States' transportation network in 2002. But a prospering domestic economy and continued growth in international trade, particularly with Pacific Rim countries, together strain existing network capacity and contribute to the growing congestion witnessed today in many urban areas and along major transportation corridors. The rising costs of energy, new truck driver hours-of-service rules, labor and equipment shortages at ports, railroads, and motor carriers, and increasingly limited federal and state transportation budgets for capital construction projects compound these network problems.
The research for this report, conducted for the Congressional Research Service by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, examines public- and private-sector initiatives found in different geographic regions on the United States that are intended to address traffic congestion and improve the capacity and efficiency of the national transportation network. These initiatives fall into three general categories: planning, finance, and specific projects or practices. Each chapter in this book includes a brief overview of transportation planning conducted in key states experiencing heavy volumes of international trade (Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington), a description of the primary mechanisms in place to fund transportation infrastructure improvements, and a series of in-depth case studies of innovative projects and practices.
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