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Transportation: A Promise for America

Susan Martinovich is the director for the Nevada Department of Transportation, where she has worked for over 28 years and has worked on initiatives in the areas of safety, research and policy.

Susan Martinovich is being honored as a Champion of Change for her time and effort developing innovative ways to help grow and expand the transportation industry.  

Working in the transportation industry for many years, I know the impact and the promise that a thriving transportation system can provide. Not only does transportation connect each of us with our communities and livelihoods, it provides the lifeline for the daily necessities, goods and services on which our modern society and economy is built. Transportation is vital to each and every one of us, and there are many outstanding and dedicated individuals committed to enhancing the system. I am honored to be among those named as a White House Transportation Innovators Champions of Change.

In my home state of Nevada, independent studies show an economic gain of approximately $1.50 for every $1 invested in transportation. Transportation investment is the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it.

To fulfill the promise of transportation’s future, we must also look to innovative new ways to provide the transportation infrastructure a thriving nation needs. Most funding for road construction, maintenance and operations comes from fuel taxes. Today in Nevada, as an example, these fuel taxes cover approximately half of the road costs per gallon that they funded when last raised in 1992. It is similar across much of the nation. Investigating potential use-based fees and partnering with private partners to look to potential public-private partnerships can be some ways to help provide responsible and sustainable road funding. Public support and knowledge of these transportation funding tools can make all the difference. Another way to provide the nation’s needed transportation infrastructure among great funding needs? New and innovative techniques such as design-build construction can help, and have in Nevada led to award-winning road projects such as Interstate 15 improvements through the heart of Las Vegas.

There is no more important investment than public safety. Great safety strides have been made, but there are as many as 100 traffic deaths on America’s roads every day. Nevada has launched a Zero Fatalities traffic safety goal. It’s a collaboration between transportation and safety organizations statewide to continually enhance road safety. But, more than that, it is a way for all road users to recognize their own responsibilities in ensuring everyone on our roads returns home safely. Always buckling up, never driving impaired and focusing on the road are just some of the vital tips that I hope you and those you care about will always follow. I encourage people to ask themselves “What is an acceptable fatality goal for my family?” That answer is easy – ZERO! From traffic safety and beyond, I have been honored to have a front row view of the importance of transportation. I am proud to have been involved in designing freeways for Las Vegas and other areas of the state. These interchanges and freeway systems that were built decades ago have now evolved into larger, even more robust infrastructure to support the needs of an ever-growing Las Vegas and Nevada. This is much the way our nation’s transportation infrastructure must continue to thrive and grow.

Next time you drive or take public transit to work, enjoy a roadside walking path or grab a truck-delivered item from a store shelf, please remember how vital transportation is to our lives, our communities and our great nation. It connects us, and it continues to be a promise and an investment in a robust present – and future!

Susan Martinovich is Director for the Nevada Department of Transportation.