AASHTO: Freight movement in crisis

Report identifies key projects in 30 states that would improve freight delivery

News AASHTO July 09, 2010
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In 10 years, an additional 1.8 million trucks will be on the road, according to a new report released by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO). In 20 years, for every two trucks today, another one will be added.

Already, trucking bottlenecks on major highways are adding millions of dollars to the cost of food, goods and manufacturing equipment for American consumers. As a result, the transportation system that supports the movement of freight across America is facing a crisis.

At joint news conferences in Des Moines, Iowa; Memphis, Tenn.; and Harrisburg, Pa., AASHTO released “Unlocking Freight,” an analysis of America’s freight system. The report finds our highways, railroads, ports, waterways and airports require investments well beyond current levels to maintain--much less improve--their performance. The report identifies key projects in 30 states that would improve freight delivery and dependability, and offers a three-point plan to address what is needed to relieve freight congestion, generate jobs and improve productivity.

AASHTO President and Mississippi DOT Executive Director Larry L. “Butch” Brown said, “The simple fact is: no transportation, no economy. They are inseparable. We must invest to maintain and strengthen the American ‘transconomy.’” At the Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Valley Conference of State Highway and Transportation Officials (MVC) in Des Moines, Brown said, “Congress must invest in all transportation modes, from waterways to roads and rails to get us where we need to be as a competitive nation. Millions of jobs and our nation’s long-term economic health depend on it.”

Despite more long-distance freight being moved by intermodal rail, the report found, trucks will still carry 74% of the load. On average, 10,500 trucks a day travel some segments of the interstate highway system today. By 2035, this will increase to 22,700 commercial trucks for these portions of the interstate, with the most heavily used segments seeing upwards of 50,000 trucks a day. Yet between 1980 and 2006, traffic on the interstate highway system increased by 150% while interstate capacity increased by only 15%. The report identifies the 1,000 miles of most heavily traveled highways used by trucks.

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