Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stimulus Thoughts

 The traffic and transportation world is definitely feeling the recession.  While public funding is drying up there is the hope that stimulus funding will help bridge the gap until tax receipts are strong again and able to support widespread funding for my profession.  I have had co-workers and other colleagues affected by this downturn and some have found work others haven't.  What remains to be seen is how the demand for improved transportation will track as compared to the available funding given current methods for creating funding sources.  In a normal industry, demand drops in a recession as buyers pull back and save money, pay off debt or do something else with their money.  Transportation needs never take a holiday, they only increase and with funding being less available this demand is likely to increase and at some point turn exponential as needs stack on top of needs.  I certainly expect that we will soon be to the point where there will be further crumbling or roads and bridges and the cost to just keep up what we already have will sap almost all that is available to spend on transportation.  How does this portend for ITS?  We have to be creative and clever.  If there are a lot of road projects going on there's opportunity for two things - work zone management and placement of fiber cable in the ground.  There's also the need to have adjusted traffic signal control plans during construction.  Of course we in ITS can still use cost/benefit analysis data to justify new ITS devices where needs occur, but there is certainly more competition for every dollar available.  I see the need for more coming together to solve problems.  I have worked on a regional ATMS project in metro Atlanta where three suburbs came together and this is going well thus far.  Arterial Management is going to be the next big thing as freeway management approaches build-out in many places. Hopefully things will turn around son as we ride out this storm. 

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