Chinese officials announced Wednesday at the 6th Annual US-China Transportation Forum that they are expanding their nationwide network of highways, railways and airports. US officials at the same forum said the federal government is having trouble maintaining America’s existing transportation system since public funding has become scarce. Albeit in different places with their transportation planning, the two countries seem to share the same goal to create a robust, healthy and more sustainable system.
“The existing system still cannot meet the demand for the movement of goods and the movement of people,” says Vice Minister Gao Hongfeng. So in the coming five years, China is planning to add over 300 miles of highway, over 67,000 miles of motorway, increase the number of civil-aviation airports from 170 to 230 and invest $82 to $98 billion annually in a new railway fund. Compare that with the US, which invests only $2 billion annually in rail.
Critics worry these grandiose plans could cause more air pollution in China, which already exhibits alarming levels of smog. Chinese officials countered critics with claims that the government is planning to promote green transportation technologies that will save energy and reduce emissions, convert urban public transportation vehicles to natural gas and electric fuels, convert ships to natural gas, and convert the power supply for port equipment to supply cleaner shore power to docked ships.
The US, meanwhile, is looking to diversify its transportation system, instead of relying solely on one mode. “National transportation policy will be driven by local innovation, which prioritizes goals like livability,” said US Deputy Secretary of Transportation, John D. Porcari. For example, the US is seeing record ridership on Amtrak, which could, if developed further, mitigate people’s reliance on automobiles and airlines. High-speed rail promising development would occur along two-city pairs, like Chicago-St. Louis, Porcari predicted.