National security FHWA's top priority

| 1/10/2003

At a Jan. 9 meeting in Jefferson City, MO, the Federal Highway Administration’s Charles Nottingham said national security is the agency’s top priority, followed by doing a better job on safety and improving just-in-time delivery of goods.

Today’s highway system, built by President Eisenhower to help ensure national security, can be improved if all transportation networks work together efficiently, he said.

As part of that effort, the Bush administration will take steps to ease congestion on the nation's highways. A presidential task force is set to review congestion-reduction projects, he said.

Nottingham spoke at a Missouri Transportation Conference sponsored by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Missouri Farm Bureau. He said the government would work in partnership with states, which would be encouraged to develop their own plans, such as seat belt programs, to improve safety.

"Last year, more than 40,000 people were killed in traffic accidents," Nottingham, associate administrator for policy, said. "The number is coming down, but it’s a tragic and astounding number."

He said highway projects across the nation often take too long complete. That, coupled with a rather poor economy, probably explains why many transportation funding efforts failed in many states, he added.

--By Dick Larsen, senior writer