The nation heads into the Independence Day holiday weekend amid the longest and steepest decline in driving since the invention of the automobile.
Since the number of miles traveled by motor vehicles in the USA peaked in November 2007, the nation’s 12-month total has dropped by 123 billion miles, or slightly more than 4%. That’s a bigger decline than the drop of just above 3% during the 1979-80 Iranian revolution that triggered a spike in gasoline prices in the USA.
The 4% drop is the equivalent of taking between 8 million and 10 million drivers off the road.
“We may be witnessing the beginning of a fundamental shift in American driving habits,” says Ed McMahon, senior research fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit group that promotes innovative development.
Maybe this would be a good time to implement
McMahon says his research shows that people over the past three years are trending toward compact, transit-oriented developments that mix residential, retail and office uses and encourage walking. Even when the economy recovers, he says, people won’t resume driving at previous rates.
And if they had mass transit to use then instead of cars, we’d all be better off.
The only other rail project, with guaranteed cash available, is a line from Atlanta to Chattanooga that was part of a 2000 bill from the state legislature, HB 1348. In fact, the bill, which was passed when the Democrats last controlled the State House, contains plans for several lines around the state, but only the Atlanta-Chattanooga high-speed track is specifically guaranteed funding “should federal or private funds be made available for such high speed rail.”
Unfortunately for Georgia legislators, though, President Obama’s rail plans do not include a line between the two southern cities, meaning that if the state still wants to build that line, it needs to come up with the money itself.
If the same entities that repeatedly banded together to keep Moody Air Force Base
(VLD, Lowndes County, VSU, state and national reps and senators, etc.)
lobbied DoT (state and federal), they could do this thing.
They could even use the rail line to Barretts to run commuter rail to
Moody while they’re at it.
Here’s a chance for Valdosta and Lowndes County to lead the state
in making real progress.