People make residential and locational decisions based upon optimal access to schools, employment and retail options. Businesses make critical investment decisions in terms of expansion and relocation predicated on whether the state and communities possess safe, reliable and efficient transportation infrastructure.
Area Development, a leading site and facility planning magazine for economic developers, has conducted an annual survey of corporate executives for more than 25 years. To quote from its latest survey results (2011), “93.8 percent rate highway accessibility as the top ranked site selection factor,” followed closely by labor costs, at 88.4 percent.
Highway accessibility competed against 25 other business climate factors to earn the top spot. And while highways are critical, it is important to note that approximately 54 percent of all lane miles in the state of Oklahoma reside in our municipalities.
Transportation is more than just the movement of people and product. It's also about the movement of charged atoms (electricity), analog and digital signals (voice, data, video), and the high-speed data paths to carry the latter.
An efficient, multi-modal transportation network is critical to sustaining economic growth. In addition to the movement of people and product, a strong transportation network strengthens our economy, protects our environment and supports our quality of life.
For Oklahoma to remain a destination choice in this fiercely competitive international marketplace, we need to have a modern transportation infrastructure that functions at its highest level and provides for the competitive movement of people, product and information.
The Oklahoma Academy is conducting its 2013 town hall on transportation infrastructure, with a special emphasis on current and potential funding and financing mechanisms to address the billions of dollars of unmet need. It will be held Oct. 27-30 in Norman.
A committee of more than 20 Oklahomans, from all walks of life, is developing the background document and topics for the town hall. We'd be honored if you would join us in dialogue, discussion and deliberation. We need thoughtful and engaged Oklahomans who understand the importance of a viable transportation network to keep our economic momentum alive.
If you have an interest in this topic and developing public policy recommendations for this state, go to the Oklahoma Academy's website at www.okacademy.org/TownHall. Or call (405) 232-5828 for more information.
Knutson is a former transportation planner in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and chief economist for SBC. McCaleb is a former state transportation director and is president of TRUST (Transportation Revenues Used Strictly for Transportation).