Better Roads Staff
Freight Movement Crisis
A new report looking at the movement of freight in America portrays a scary scenario if infrastructure in America remains stalled.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has released its Unlocking Freight Report. Not surprisingly, it offers more proof that our transportation infrastructure needs more investment. Current levels do not even offer the possibility of maintaining that infrastructure, according to this report. The new 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.
“The simple fact is: no transportation, no economy. They are inseparable,” said AASHTO President and Mississippi DOT Executive Director Larry L. “Butch” Brown. “We must invest to maintain and strengthen the American ‘transconomy.’”
In 10 years, an additional 1.8 million trucks will be on the road; in 20 years, for every two trucks today, another one will be added, according to the report. Already bottlenecks on major highways used by truckers every day are adding millions of dollars to the cost of food, goods and manufacturing equipment for American consumers.
Despite more long-distance freight being moved by intermodal rail, the report finds that trucks will still carry 74 percent of the load. On average, 10,500 trucks a day travel some segments of interstates 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 percent while interstate capacity increased by only 15 percent, said the report.
“This report outlines what’s at stake if we fail to invest to meet the growing demands on our transportation infrastructure,” said Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
Iowa Department of Transportation Director Nancy Richardson said states “need greater investment and sound federal transportation polices to allow them to expand capacity when and where necessary.”
Minnesota DOT Commissioner Thomas Sorel said, “The Port of Duluth-Superior is an example of hundreds of freight-related projects in desperate need of greater investment. It’s one of the largest inland seaports in the world, bringing in iron ore and coal docks, grain elevators and specialized cargo facilities lining the industrial waterfronts of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Yet the infrastructure is currently deficient in terms of capacity, physical condition and safety.”
“The nation’s multimodal freight transportation system directly affects economic development, current and future jobs, and the quality of life in our communities,” said Ohio DOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris, MVC incoming vice president. “Today the nation’s freight transportation system supports more than 10 million jobs, from couriers, truckers, laborers, shippers, railroad conductors and mechanics to postal carriers, warehouse operators and stock clerks. Now, think about how many more jobs will be added as the industry grows over time and you begin to see yet another reason why this study is so important.”
Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely, speaking of the report, said, “To accommodate this predicted growth in freight movement, we need to think nationally, regionally, and on a multi-modal level. Central to this effort should be the creation of a National Multimodal Freight Plan to ensure that transportation investments are coordinated and made where most needed. By linking trucks, rail, waterway transport and aviation, freight can be moved more efficiently throughout the nation.”
For more information and to see state examples of freight capacity needs, go to http://expandingcapacity.transportation.org. v
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