The evolving nature of technology and transportation systems—roads, rail, air—could have a big impact on how the construction industry does business going forward. Late yesterday afternoon, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Eric Schmidt, chairman, Google, www.google.com, unveiled Beyond Traffic.

One of the challenges expressed in the discussion is the fact the highway transportation bill expires in May—and for many—construction on transportation projects begins in May, according to Foxx. This comes as infrastructure is already falling behind. Foxx says Congress realizes we have to do something, but what?

This is something that is addressed in Beyond Traffic, a new analysis from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, www.dot.gov, that anticipates the trends and choices facing transportation systems throughout the next three decades. The focus of the discussion yesterday was how America is changing and America’s transportation systems must get ahead of that change or be overwhelmed by it.

Looking at the numbers, 30 years from now, America will be home to 70 million more people, many in cities in the South and West, transforming the way people and goods are moved. What’s more, 29 billion more tons of freight will need to cross the country, as America simultaneously imagines and adapts to the promise of new technologies and innovation.

“Rather than find ourselves stuck because we didn’t look out far enough, our thought process is that we put these facts in front of the American public and then we spend time in Congress … to figure out how we move forward,” says Foxx.

He specifically spoke about integrating technology in transportation systems in a few areas including autonomous cars and drones, to name a few. With drones, commercial use is banned, with the exception of an exemption; however the government is working on a rule for commercial use in the future.

The federal focus is on safety, Foxx stresses, as the government has done quite a bit to focus on this in cars, transit systems, as well as pedestrian safety.

For the construction industry, understanding how technology is impacting transportation systems will be key going forward, as businesses will need to be aware of changes while managing construction projects.

Beyond Traffic is being offered to the public as a draft to ignite a national conversation about the future. A final report will be released later in 2015.

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