The Tweets Told the Story

By Janet Kavinoky, Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

A tweet fest, recently led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sought to give America a chance to weigh in on the need for a solution to fund America’s crumbling highways and public transit systems.

We’ve lived in a 140-character-world for a while now, but who knew tweets could essentially tell the whole story of why a long-term solution is needed and important, as well as what kind of solution may provide relief. Here’s the story, through less than 24-hours of illustrative tweets:

The Problem:

@Orla_Pease #StuckInTraffic in CT…need transportation funding!

@LobbyHobby2 #StuckInTraffic pity da people of Massachusetts & Pennsylvania where bridges decay from wear, salt, snow. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/deficient.cfm … @USDOTFHWA

@debbiemosley – North Dallas tollway is always backed up. #StuckInTraffic

tweets

@transitmatters – Endless gridlock in downtown #Boston, packed & delayed @MBTA trains… #StuckInTraffic #ReapWhatYouSow #BOSnow

@SenSchumer – 1 in 4 bridges across the US are in dire need of repair- including 2K+ in NY. We need a robust infrastructure bill this year #StuckInTraffic

@RepCohen – 42% of America’s major roads are congested, costing US commuters more than $121 billion each year in wasted time&fuel #StuckInTraffic

tweets

@AARPadvocates Can you find the man trying to cross the street? http://bit.ly/1Ch52e3 #stuckintraffic

@TransportDems – The US spends a lower percentage of its GDP on infrastructure than many developing countries #StuckInTraffic

@PewStates – Declining fed, state gas taxes stall #transportation investments: http://ow.ly/IQz6c #StuckInTraffic

@eipasi – We’ve got a bigger problem than a highway problem, we’ve got a mobility problem @SecretaryFoxx @APA_Planning #StuckInTraffic

The Value of Smart, Long-Term Investment:

@APA_Planning – Transit invest. = big econ. returns. Cleveland’s BRT generated $5b in economic dev., 4K new housing units @RepMarciaFudge #StuckInTraffic

@SenSchumer – doesn’t spending on infrastructure not only improve safety but create 100s of jobs & get our economy moving? #StuckInTraffic

@aptapolicylab – Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports over 50,000 jobs ? #StuckInTraffichttp://ow.ly/i/8AQ8L

@APTA_Transit – 10.7 billion trips were taken on #publictransit last year – put those trips on the roads and we will REALLY be #STUCKINTRAFFIC

The Solution:

@KeithRTC – Want to avoid being #stuckintraffic? Create a multi-modal system that creates safe routes to everywhere for everyone.

@APTA_Transit – Building a rail station is an investment with nationwide benefits, and it causes less of us to end up #stuckintraffic

@tranlib – Hey people #StuckInTraffic – how do you actually plan to fund the highways you’re stuck on without raising the gas tax? #curious

@OHERN – Skin in the Game “@Transport: .@XeroxTransport #stuckintraffic I believe that user fee is the fairest way to fund across gov. #OhernModel

There were also extremist-generated tweets calling for passage of legislation that cuts the federal government out of transportation funding. Most of those, literally, wrapped their tweets in American flag, which seemed ironic since that’s an approach that people without the facts think will lower their individual taxes, when in actuality, their taxes at the state-level would sky-rocket and a patch-work road and transit system would further worsen the current situation.

Full disclosure – I couldn’t help but jump into the debate as well. Kuddos to Chairman Shuster and Secretary Anthony Foxx for making this happen; now it’s time for Congress to initiate a sincere debate that ends @BetterAmericanRoads=BetterAmerica.

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