TRIP report: Nation’s 65-year interstate road network needs a complete overhaul


WASHINGTON – The country’s national highway system, originally funded in 1956, is now 65 years old – and there’s no doubt it needs a lot of work.

According to a report released in June by TRIP, the interstate highway system is congested, involves significant levels of travel, especially for large trucks, and lacks sufficient funds to make necessary repairs and upgrades.

The findings of the report – America’s Interstate Highway System at 65: Meeting America’s Transportation Needs with a Reliable, Safe & Well-Maintained National Highway Network – show that this essential transportation link will need to be rebuilt and expanded to meet the country’s growing transportation needs. transport. TRIP said in a June 22 press release.

The report examines the use, state and benefits of the interstate system, as well as the findings of a 2019 report prepared by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), at the request of Congress as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, on the state and use of the interstate system and the actions required to restore and upgrade the interstate system.

The graph below ranks the 20 states with the most congested interstate systems, experienced the largest increase in vehicle kilometers traveled (VMT) since 2000, are the most frequented (based on trips daily per kilometer of track), have the largest share of roads in poor condition. condition, and have most of the bridges in poor condition / poor structure. Data for all states can be found here.

(Courtesy: TRAVEL

According to the TRB 2019 report, the interstate system has a persistent and growing backlog of physical and operational impairments due to age, heavy use and deferred reinvestment, and is in need of reconstruction and rehabilitation. major modernization. The TRB report concludes that annual investment in the interstate road network is expected to increase approximately two and a half times, from $ 23 billion in 2018 to $ 57 billion per year over the next 20 years.

“The report released by TRIP confirms what American businesses experience every day: our interstate highway system, which was once the envy of the world, is in serious need of modernization,” said Ed Mortimer, vice-president. president of transportation infrastructure at the United States Chamber of Commerce. Trade. “The commitment to modernization must be shared by federal, state and local leaders as well as the private sector. The interstate system plays a key national role in the economic success and quality of life of every American, and we urge this year to find bipartisan solutions to address this critical issue. “

The TRIP report found that trips on the interstate system from 2000 to 2019 increased by 26%, a rate almost triple the rate at which new track capacity was added. As a result, 47% of interstate urban highways are considered congested during rush hour. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle travel on U.S. highways fell 45% in April 2020, but rebounded just 6% below April 2019 levels in April 2021.

The report also found that combined truck trips on the highway increased at a rate more than double that of overall vehicle trips between 2000 and 2019. Combined truck trips on the interstate system increased by 43 % from 2000 to 2019, while overall vehicle trips increased 19%.

“Our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure is a clear and current threat to our nation’s supply chain,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “Inter-state highway outages add $ 75 billion a year to the cost of transporting goods, and 67 million tonnes of excess carbon dioxide emissions are released into the atmosphere each year from trucks stranded in traffic jams. This report quantifies the severity of this crisis and highlights the urgent need for Congress to make real investments in infrastructure backed by a fair and equitable user-based revenue stream. “

The design of the interstate system – which includes separation from other roads and railways, a minimum of four lanes, paved shoulders and median barriers – makes it more than twice as safe as any other road. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled on the highway in 2019 was 0.55, compared with 1.3 on non-interstate roads. TRIP estimates that additional safety features on the interstate road network saved 6,555 lives in 2019.

“The AAA supports increased federal investments for the Interstate Highway System,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s executive director of advocacy and communications. “Significant funding is needed to ensure safe, efficient and reliable mobility across the United States. The AAA urges Congress and the administration to come together to accomplish this important work. “

The TRIP report finds that while the smoothness of the pavement on most segments of the interstate system is acceptable, the crumbling foundations of most highway segments need to be rebuilt and resurfacing continued – rather than solve the underlying fundamental problems – results in diminishing returns and results in shorter periods of pavement smoothness.

As the foundations of the aging system continue to deteriorate, most interstate highways, bridges and interchanges will need to be rebuilt or replaced, according to the TRB report. Statistics from the TRIP report show that the pavement of 11% of interstate highways is in poor or average condition. Three percent of interstate bridges are rated in poor and structurally deficient condition, and 57% are rated in fair condition.

According to TRB, restoring and upgrading the interstate highway network to meet the country’s transportation needs will require a significant increase in funding, strong federal leadership, and a strong federal-state partnership. The current FAST Act, the primary source of funding for interstate highways, has been extended for one year by Congress and now expires on September 30, 2021. The reauthorization of a new, adequately funded, long-term federal program and reliable is necessary to ensure that a strong federal program supports the restoration of the interstate system.

Based on the findings of the TRB Interstate report, TRIP provided a set of recommendations for the restoration of the interstate road network, which includes the fundamental reconstruction of interstate highways, bridges and interchanges; improvement of road safety characteristics; the correct sizing of the system, including the upgrading of certain road corridors to interstate standards; adding the additional road capacity needed on existing routes; the addition of additional corridors; and modifying certain urban segments to maintain connectivity while addressing economic and social disruption.

“The long-term vision that helped establish the current road system 65 years ago is needed again today,” said Dave Kearby, Executive Director of TRIP. “A modernized interstate system will be critical to the country’s ability to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and will require adequate investment in a federal surface transportation program that will provide states and local governments with the funding and flexibility that they will need to restore the most critical transport link.

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