Research Roundup: Climate Change In State Transportation Policy, OCTA’s Draft Long Range Plan & Green Jobs From Freight Rail

States are experimenting with pay-as-you-drive insurance, variable road pricing and various commuter incentives to provide cleaner transportation options

With a comprehensive climate bill stalled at the federal level, many are turning to the states to make progress toward reducing carbon emissions.  Are the states ready?

Getting Back On Track: Aligning State Transportation Policy With Climate Change Goals (66p. PDF) looks at how many sectors will need to reduce their carbon emissions.

This report from Smart Growth America and the Natural Resources Defense Council examines what states are doing to curb emissions caused by transportation.  As such, it is the first report to look at state transportation policy as it affects greenhouse gas emissions and compare performance across the states.

The findings suggest that there is tremendous potential for states to make progress on reducing transportation-related carbon emissions.  The report’s recommendations suggest ways states can improve their climate performance while meeting their mobility needs.

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has released it’s 2010 draft long-range transportation plan.

“In the Year 2035 Baseline Condition, about 50 percent of Orange County’s freeways will operate under congested conditions in peak hours.”

Destination 2035: Moving Toward A Greener Tomorrow (175p. PDF) outlines a vision for multi-modal transportation improvements throughout Orange County.

The plan identifies three main goals: expanding transportation system choices, improving transportation system performance and ensuring sustainability.

By 2035, the population of Orange County is forecast to increase by 14%, employment will increase by over 10%, and daily person trips will increase a forecasted 12% — all placing additional demands on the transportation system.

However, daily vehicle miles traveled are expected to increase by 30% during this time period – leading to County-wide commute speeds dropping 33% by 2035.

The draft plan lays out a detailed vision for transit strategy, freeway planning, streets and roads improvement and transportation system & demand management to meet these challenges.

As the economic recession continues and a jobless recovery looks more likely, there is a growing awareness that the transportation sector represents a significant component of our national oil dependence and consequently, our contribution to greenhouse gas pollution.

Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion (16p. PDF) is a new publication from the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute.

Economic models estimate about 7,800 green jobs are created for every billion dollars of freight rail capital investment.

It argues that moving to a clean energy economy that reinvests in American industries and prioritizes efficient energy use and pollution reduction represents a significant opportunity to create jobs and promote sustainable economic growth — and that the freight rail industry can be an important part of this transition.

Freight rail has demonstrated its green potential by making significant strides in efficiency, limiting pollution and creating and sustaining quality jobs.

Economic models estimate about 7,800 green jobs are created for every billion dollars of freight rail capital investment.  Furthermore, the industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods it has shipped without increasing fuel consumption over the past three decades, and creates a fraction of the pollution of other transport modes such as trucking and aviation

As the U.S. economy gets back on track, freight movement will expand, requiring corresponding infrastructure investment.  By growing capacity, the freight rail industry can seize significant opportunities to meet projected demand for shipping cargo, save energy, reduce pollution and create tens of thousands of new jobs throughout the economy.