New study shows effect of heavy truck loads

News AASHTO Journal June 03, 2003
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One out of every four major urban roads in the U

One out of every four major urban roads in the U.S. provide drivers with an unacceptable ride quality, costing motorists an extra $396 annually in operating costs, according to a report released this week in Washington, D.C.

The report is the work of The Road Information Program (TRIP) and is titled, "Keep Both Hands on the Wheel: Cities with the Bumpiest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother."

The high level of pavement deterioration on major urban roadways can be attributed to a significant increase in urban traffic, particularly from large trucks. Overall, travel on urban roads increased by 30% between 1991 and 2001. Travel by large commercial trucks increased by 46% over the same time period. Vehicle travel is projected to increase by 42% by 2020, while travel by heavy trucks is projected to increase by 49%.

A 2002 U.S. Department of Transportation study prepared for Congress found that urban road and highway pavement conditions are likely to get worse at current funding levels. The DOT study concluded that improving the physical condition and performance of urban roadways would require a 49% increase in annual funding, from $13.6 billion to $20.2 billion annually.

"Congress has the opportunity to increase federal funding to improve these roads when they reauthorize federal surface transportation legislation this year," said Will Wilkins, TRIP's executive director. "Without additional federal investment, our nation's roads are going to get worse and motorists are going to pay a higher 'hidden tax' in the form of additional vehicle operating costs."

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