The national transportation and research group TRIP released a new report on October 3, 2019 detailing an expected 104% rise in annual freight transportation across the U.S. from 2016 to 2045. This increase in freight movement breeds challenges to the nation’s already aging infrastructure. The report, “America’s Rolling Warehouses: Opportunities And Challenges With The Nation’s Freight Delivery System,” celebrates the country’s economic growth as the driving force behind increased freight movement.
Using data from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the report states that traffic congestion on our major highways has led to nearly $75 billion in operational costs and 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity. It was also reported that in 2016, trucking was the largest model of freight movement carrying 72% by value and 66% by weight. In order for the nation to take advantage of surging economic growth, capacity for the nation’s freight transportation system must be expanded on major highways, trade gateways, rail facilities, and ports. The country must invest in additional intermodal connectors and improve the reliability of existing intermodal connectors, of which approximately 68% are congested and 56% have pavements in poor condition. Delaying investments in repairs and new construction will only become more costly and time consuming.
These findings support ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which graded our nation’s roads with a “D” and our bridges and ports with a “C+.” In order to ensure that we have a freight network fit for the 21st century, we must fix the Highway Trust Fund by increasing the current gas tax by 25 cents. The nation’s economy is on the upswing and freight movement will reach record highs until 2045, but it will take adequate funding to ensure that production is not derailed by inadequate infrastructure.