The nation's economic vitality and the quality of life of its citizens depend significantly on the security, availability, and dependability of its transportation network. The nation's transportation network presents particularly complex policy challenges, because it encompasses many modes on systems owned, funded, and operated by both the public and the private sectors. As the August collapse of a bridge span in Minneapolis illustrated, policymakers currently face the challenge of maintaining the safety and condition of the transportation network--in a time of increasing fiscal constraint. Addressing these challenges requires a fundamental reexamination and transformation of the nation's transportation policies and programs. This forum brought together government, academic, and transportation industry experts, along with GAO's own transportation specialists. The discussion addressed (1) the appropriate goals for the nation's transportation policy, (2) the role of the federal government in achieving transportation goals, (3) how transportation goals might be financed, and (4) next steps in transforming transportation policy for the 21st century. These highlights do not necessarily represent the views of any one participant or the organizations that these participants represent, including GAO.
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