In a study done at the request of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Ark.), the General Accounting Office (GAO) has concluded the interstate highway system is in better shape today than it was 10 years ago. However, congestion on the system is a growing problem, not only in urban areas but also in rural locations.
GAO based its study on an exhaustive written survey that received responses from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In addition to the findings on condition and congestion, GAO determined that the interstate highway system is increasingly important for the movement of freight; that interstates and their associated bridges are aging to a point where refurbishment will be increasingly necessary; and that the interstate system remains the safest of the U.S. highway types.
"Over the past decade, the physical condition of the interstate highway system has improved; the safety of the system has stayed steady; and congestion has increased," GAO wrote in his report.
Though most states surveyed said they believed conditions on the interstate system would continue to be generally good, a few told GAO that system aging and budgetary pressures may make it difficult to maintain the system in top form indefinitely.
The Federal Highway Administration and nearly all the states "expect the volume of both car and truck traffic to increase over the next 10 years, and most states reported the expected increase in traffic would negatively affect the physical condition of pavement and bridges, safety and levels of congestion on their interstates," GAO wrote.