Bloomberg CityLab: The Road Warriors

January 22, 2022

"Youth Vs. ODOT’s campaign is well timed. Over the next five years, transportation departments across the U.S. will receive some $350 billion in federal highway funding — more than has ever been disbursed — from President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. States have flexibility to spend a lot of that money on public transit, bike lanes, electric vehicles and other lower-carbon choices. But there has been little indication — even from progressive governors — that the vast majority will be used for anything other than roads.

Vehicles generate close to 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that emissions must fall drastically, lest we face runaway, catastrophic warming. The infrastructure bill could be part of that solution, if states prioritized repair and maintenance of existing roads over expansion, as well as investments in low-carbon transportation. But as a recent report from the Georgetown Climate Center put it, “the IIJA funding could result in an increase in emissions over what we’d expect” if it paves new roads and lanes instead.

If the U.S. has a shot at reining in climate change, highway policy needs to turn on its head. The kids are here to point the way."

Read the full article by Laura Bliss in Bloomberg CityLab.