Corridors of the Future (USA)
“Congestion is one of the single largest threats to America’s economic prosperity and way of life.”
—US Department of Transportation, “Corridors of the Future Program”
Federal Register: September 5, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 171), Page 52364-52367
According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), traffic congestion is responsible for $200 billion in economic losses each year in the US alone. In response, the department initiated the Corridors of the Future Program in order to relieve congestion on major national trade arteries. A variety of states submitted applications to the DOT, which selected Interstates 5, 10, 15, 69, 70 and 95 for the program.
Plans for these highways involve not only widening and other such “improvements,” but also building new bridges (e.g. across the Columbia River in the Northwest along I-5), bypasses (e.g. in southern Arizona along I-10) and major extensions (e.g., 1,660 miles of I-69 from Michigan to Mexico). For more information, see this DOT fact sheet.
In addition to providing funding for specific projects, the DOT has promised to help “accelerate the delivery of the corridor projects” — in other words, shortcut the usually multi-year process involved in major transportation construction. Corridors of the Future are eligible for “high priority” status for speedy environmental review, expedited credit assurance, priority in access to tolling programs, and federal assistance in identifying other funding sources. The DOT is encouraging private sector involvement in all levels, in order to “illustrate the benefits of alternative financial models that involve private sector capital” and “demonstrate the viability of a transportation investment model based on sound economics and market principles.” This means projects like private and toll roads are very much on the table.
The DOT has identified these 5 highways as integral parts of US transportation infrastructure, and their expansion as critical to the continued economic health of the country. For that reason alone, we should do everything we can to prevent any “improvements” to these highways.