A report from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, shows that the U.S. interstate highway system faces increasing congestion, unprecedented levels of travel – particularly by large trucks – and insufficient funding to make needed repairs and improvements.
Titled “Restoring the Interstate Highway System: Meeting America’s Transportation Needs with a Reliable, Safe & Well-Maintained National Highway Network,” the organization’s report concluded that the critical transportation link will need to be rebuilt and expanded to meet growing needs. It took into account the interstate system’s use, condition and benefits. It also included the findings of a 2019 report prepared by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which looked at actions required to restore and upgrade the system. The TRB indicated that investment should be increased approximately two-and-a-half times, from $23 billion in 2018 to $57 billion annually in the course of the next 20 years.
Shared commitment needed
“The report released by TRIP confirms what American businesses experience every day – that our interstate highway system, which was once the envy of the world, is in serious need of modernization,” said Ed Mortimer, Vice President 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 the economic success and quality of life for every American, and we continue to urge bipartisan solutions to address this critical issue.”
As the aging system’s foundations continue to deteriorate, most interstate highways, bridges and interchanges will need to be rebuilt or replaced. According to the TRIP report, pavement on 11% of interstate highways is in poor or mediocre condition. More than one quarter of interstate bridges need repair or replacement.
Based on the findings of the TRB interstate report, TRIP has provided a set of recommendations for restoration, which includes completing foundational reconstruction of interstate highways, bridges and interchanges; prioritizing improvements to roadway safety features; system rightsizing, including upgrading of some roadway corridors to interstate standards; addressing needed additional highway capacity on existing routes; adding more corridors; and modifying some urban segments to maintain connectivity while remediating economic and social disruption.
“The long-term vision that helped establish the current system nearly 65 years ago is needed again today,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s Executive Director. “In order to rebuild the nation’s economy, maintain personal and commercial mobility as well as improve quality of life, adequate transportation investment and a sustainable, long-term funding source for the federal surface transportation program must remain a priority.”