TRIP report looks at impact of highway bottlenecks on freight, supply chain

Dec. 14, 2021

Report says additional investment in U.S. freight network is needed to improve supply chain issues

A new report from transportation research nonprofit TRIP says it will be critical that states make additional investments to improve the efficiency and condition of the nation’s freight network to minimize supply chain disruptions.

The report—titled “The U.S. Freight Network’s Critical Role in the Supply Chain”—examines the latest information on the condition and reliability of the nation’s supply chain and the critical role of the U.S. freight transportation network in keeping the U.S. economy moving.

TRIP says that traffic congestion can increase the cost of goods and services as a result of increased delays. The Texas Transportation Institute, in its 2021 Urban Mobility Report, found that increasing traffic congestion resulted in a 77% increase in traffic delays for commercial trucks from 2000 to 2019, increasing from 219 million hours to 387 million hours.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) prepares an annual list of the nation’s top 100 truck bottlenecks, based on the analysis of a massive database of truck GPS data, to quantify the impact of traffic congestion on truck-borne freight.

The TRIP report also includes a list of the nation's 25 least reliable major freight highway corridors, based on a reliability index that indicates how much longer travel times are on heavy travel days, compared to normal days.

TRIP says the condition of the nation’s freight network can greatly impact the delivery of goods. The pavement life cycle on the National Highway Freight Network, which includes the nation’s major freight routes, is greatly affected by state and local governments’ ability to perform timely maintenance and upgrades to ensure that road and highway surfaces last as long as possible.

The TRIP report finds that 4% of pavement on the National Highway Freight Network are rated in poor condition, while 19% are rated in fair condition, and the remaining 77% are rated in good condition. Four percent of National Highway Freight Network bridges are rated in poor condition, 43% are rated in fair condition, and the remaining 53% are rated in good condition.

TRIP says the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—signed into law in November 2021—will provide $304 billion for highways, roads and bridges over the next five years through September 30, 2026 — a 34% increase over current funding levels. This investment in the nation's surface transportation system, TRIP says, is needed to improve the efficiency of the nation’s supply chain.