Infrastructure bill could bring needed investment
It’s not really news to the truckers who have driven thousands of miles or the commuters who have spent hours upon hours sitting in traffic: U.S. interstates are badly in need of repair, and they’re jam-packed.
In Meeting America’s Transportation Needs with a Reliable, Safe & Well-Maintained National Highway Network, transportation research nonprofit TRIP lays out just how bad things are. In the last two decades, travel on interstate highways has increased 26%, leaving nearly half of them congested. Combination truck travel has been the leading factor, increasing 43% from 2000-19.
“As the U.S. Interstate Highway System reaches 65 years old, it is congested, carries significant levels of travel – particularly by large trucks – and lacks adequate funding to make needed repairs and improvements,” the report says. “America’s most critical transportation link will need to be rebuilt and expanded to meet the nation’s growing transportation needs.”
The report largely confirms 2019 findings from the Transportation Research Board that concluded spending on the Interstate Highway System needs to more than double in the next 20 years to maintain safe roads that enable commerce nationwide.
“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, VP of transportation infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “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 economic success and quality of life for every American, and we urge bipartisan solutions this year to address this critical issue.”
This comes as Congress debates an infrastructure bill that could inject badly needed investment in the future.
“Our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure is a clear and present danger to our nation’s supply chain. Breakdowns in the Interstate Highway System add an annual $75 billion to the cost of freight transportation, and 67 million tons of excess carbon dioxide emissions are released into the atmosphere every year from trucks stuck in traffic congestion,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “This report quantifies how severe this crisis has become, and it underscores the urgent need for Congress to make real infrastructure investments that are backed by a fair and equitable user-based revenue source.”