The transportation infrastructure community may some day look back on this week as the moment when the tolling industry began its great push forward.
This morning, during its quarterly board meeting in Miami, Florida, IBTTA is officially launching Moving America Forward, an awareness campaign to highlight the fundamental role of tolling in helping to solve the transportation infrastructure crisis.
If you’ve attended any of our recent conferences or followed our publications, you know this campaign has been in development for several months. Now, with a new year dawning, we’re rolling into high gear (with speed and sheer volume that can only be accommodated by all-electronic toll lanes).
The groundwork is in place. We’re ready to be tough and resilient. And we’re determined to deliver on our part of the solution to what Rep. Bill Shuster, incoming Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, refers to as transportation’s “own version of a fiscal cliff”.
Through 2013 and beyond, Moving America Forward will set out a strong and consistent message, helping media, policy-makers, and the driving public understand the role of user financing in supporting safe, reliable highway infrastructure. Robert Poole, co-founder of the Reason Foundation, had this to say when we launched the campaign:
“It’s about time policy-makers at all levels of government took a serious look at tolling as an effective alternative to traditional funding options. And with weak public and political support for raising any tax in this struggling economy, tolling continues to stand out as the way to go.”
While we’re in Miami, we’re learning that resilience is not just financial. On Thursday afternoon, IBTTA is convening a group of 20 thought leaders from a variety of disciplines for A Forum on Super Storm Sandy: Resilience and Adaptation.” In his blog post this week, IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Pat Jones stressed the value of sharing best practices in emergency preparedness and management and helping policy-makers make the most informed decisions about transportation safety and stability.
“We can be assured that severe weather will continue to be a major factor in both the short- and long-term stability of our transportation infrastructure,” Jones wrote, so “the severe weather panel is the beginning of an ongoing conversation.”
Everyone in this industry knows that tolling delivers a safer, more reliable drive for many millions of customers each year. With the launch of Moving America Forward, IBTTA has assembled the financial and staff resources to translate that knowledge into action. With the transportation funding crisis receiving significant attention, and severe events like Hurricane Sandy putting a different kind of spotlight on highway infrastructure, this is our moment to put forward the arguments and win the decisions that will benefit our members, our customers, and the public at large.
In the months ahead, you can expect IBTTA to adopt a much more visible, vibrant posture. You’ll see us in the media. You’ll be able to follow our activities on social media, and on this blog. And you can expect us to call on you for advice and support. Important victories are rarely won easily, but with all the right elements in place, 2013 really is shaping up as the year of moving forward.
Rob Horr is President of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association and Executive Director of the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority in Alexandria Bay, NY.