The US Department of Transportation recently released this map of so-called innovative projects funded by the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program. The article that accompanies the map is entirely devoted to defending the program’s focus on congestion mitigation – something that researchers have argued can’t really be achieved, especially through capacity expansion. While I applaud the US DOT for combining highway projects with bicycle and pedestrian improvements like this one between Maine and New Hampshire (side note: the article doesn’t even highlight these improvements), these “innovative projects” lack the force of innovations like the ones we’ve been talking about here at Living Labs or the ones coming out of Silicon Valley. Where are the car-sharing programs? The intelligent transportation systems? The elements of “smart cities”?
Perhaps these things are best left to the private sector. But I think DOT needs to find better ways of encouraging that innovation whether or not it falls under their roof.