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Guest Blogger Lilly Shoup: National Objectives Are Key To Developing a New Transportation Program

Transportation for America (T4 America), the country’s broadest and most diverse transportation coalition, believes that Congress needs to create a clear set of National Transportation Objectives with performance targets to ensure that our transportation investments promote economic development, energy security, improved health, greater access and mobility, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. T4 America believes a set of national objectives coupled with clearly defined performance targets are one of the most important reform components of a new transportation program.

Why National Objectives Are Critical – Four Key Reasons

  • National Objectives will help create an integrated system that uses multimodal solutions to address transportation challenges. A multimodal approach, oriented around national goals and targets, will ensure that projects are prioritized and selected based on their merit, and not on their mode.
  • National Objectives will allow states to plan and select projects to meet long-term goals instead of focusing on a six-year surface transportation authorization timeline. The creation of national objectives will ensure that elected officials, state departments of transportation, and local agencies focus on long-term goals by tying all transportation investments to clear, measurable goals and performance targets.
  • National Objectives will help inform and increase data collection, leading to valuable information on what areas need reform and what practices should be replicated. Clear objectives and performance targets will create a template for a system of data collection that will help us decide what information we need to collect to best measure our progress and guide our investments.
  • National Objectives create a focus on accountability and performance. Developing a set of national goals – backed by measurable and realistic performance targets – will create incentives to invest in the projects that provide the clearest benefits, and will eliminate loopholes in funding structure that reward poor infrastructure.

The upcoming federal transportation authorization is an extraordinary opportunity to remake our system and rebuild our economy – but we need clear national objectives tied to performance targets to guide our system into the 21st century.

Lilly Shoup joined Smart Growth America in 2009 and oversees the project management, design, and evaluation of research projects for the Transportation for America campaign. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and an Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and she is currently pursuing a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Maryland.

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