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Suggested Citation:"Introduction and Purpose." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Collective and Individual Actions to Envision and Realize the Next Era of America’s Transportation Infrastructure: Phase 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27263.
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FIGURE 1 Vision and goals. of private and public interests, and a broadening range of part- ners and stakeholders in our transportation system’s performance. State DOTs are being called upon to help define and realize a vision of this next era and how that vision may be realized in diverse settings. State DOTs and the public face challenging questions and choices. For example, how can air pollution and reliance on fossil fuels be drastically reduced? How can the transportation system provide equitable and safe access to health care, jobs, high-quality and affordable housing, education, and stable neighborhoods for all segments of our communities? How will new technologies and new transportation services support system performance improve- ments? How can the condition and performance of our transpor- tation system be maintained to ensure its continued support of the nation’s prosperity, high living standards, and community val- ues and priorities? While each state DOT must address such questions, individual agencies must also harmonize perspectives and strategies with others: our transportation networks do not end at political borders, even when facilities are located entirely within a single jurisdiction. For this reason, AASHTO identified the need for research to explore the fac- tors and trends likely to characterize the next era of transportation; articulate the vision, goals, and objectives that can inform and guide agency management as we enter this next era; and develop a compel- ling narrative to embolden stakeholders’ and state DOTs’ continuing INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE contribution to the nation’s prosperity and well-being. The creation of the Interstate Highway System, like the development The objectives of this project are to explore and articulate what of the first intercontinental railroad a century earlier, was transforma- state DOTs can do collectively and individually to establish and real- tional, ushering in a new era of transportation, economic develop- ize a transformative vision of the next era of America’s transportation ment, and social change in the nation’s history. President Eisenhower’s infrastructure, a vision and infrastructure to support the nation’s con- signing of the Interstate Highways and Defense Act in 1956 and the tinued prosperity and well-being, by: driving of the “Last Spike” at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869 were • Describing—through scenarios or other means—the social, tech- symbolic moments—comparable to landing a person on the moon— nological, and economic trends and evolution of community values, in the establishment of a bold vision and the infrastructure back- problems, and priorities now and in coming years that are likely to bone that supported and shaped our economy and communities for influence the role of transportation in local, regional, and national decades. Development and management of the Interstate Highway prosperity and well-being. System and its expanded realization in the National Highway System also shaped the cultures and missions of state departments of trans- • Articulating a set of evocative state DOT ambitions and goals portation (DOTs) and these agencies’ partners at local and national that, if pursued, would respond to evolutionary trends and shape levels of government. an agency’s culture and mission to maintain and enhance trans- The aim of the Interstate Highway System was focused and suc- portation’s contribution to prosperity and well-being. cinctly stated: “. . . to connect principal metropolitan areas, cities, • Presenting a visionary narrative and supporting insights, projec- and industrial centers, serve national defense, and connect with tions, and aspirational ideas to inform state DOT leadership. Canada and Mexico.” This statement became foundational to the culture and missions of the state DOTs. These agencies have evolved • Providing resources and tools that state DOT leaders can use to in response to changes in the nature of their work, from planning to tailor their efforts to shape their agency’s culture and mission and construction to operation and maintenance of increasingly mature craft meaningful and motivating targets, achievements, objec- networks. In realizing the vision, the DOTs have delivered unprece- tives, and narratives or vision statements to communicate with dented mobility and access and thereby contributed to the nation’s stakeholders. prosperity, albeit not without controversies and impact on commu- Phase 1 work focused on the first three objectives on this list nities and neighborhoods, the natural environment, land use, social and initiated concepts for the final objective. Phase 2 and any sub- equity, and more. sequent phases will build on this work and extend the effort to While notable gaps remain and funding for maintenance and include the final objective. updating are a perpetual challenge, observers suggest the goals and This report is structured as follows: objectives of the Interstate era have largely been achieved. Today, social, economic, and technological trends place the nation on the • The first section documents the key research and engage- cusp of a new era for transportation, one engaging new technol- ment activities used to develop the initial content of the vision, ogies, interactions among transportation modes, interdependence including research on the prior evolution and transformation of 2

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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) have initiated a multi-year process to describe and advance the implementation of a vision for the next era of transportation in the United States.

NCHRP Research Results Digest 404: Collective and Individual Actions to Envision and Realize the Next Era of America’s Transportation Infrastructure: Phase 1, from NCHRP, explores and articulates what state DOTs can do collectively and individually to establish and realize a transformative vision of the next era of America’s transportation infrastructure, a vision and infrastructure to support the nation’s continued prosperity and well-being.

Supplemental to the digest is a document containing Appendices A through K.


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