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TRIP Report Details Interstate Bridge Conditions

Friday, July 31, 2020

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The National Research Transportation Group (TRIP) recently released its annual “Restoring the Interstate Highway System” report, which aims to provide the latest information on the Interstate system, including pavement conditions, bridge conditions, travel trends, traffic congestion levels, truck use and traffic safety.

According to officials, the report confirms deteriorating road and bridge conditions and found that most of the Interstate system needs to be reconstructed and modernized. Such an undergoing is estimated to require more than double the current available funding.

The Report

“As the U.S. Interstate Highway System reaches 64 years old, it faces increasing congestion, unprecedented levels of travel—particularly by large trucks—and insufficient funding to make needed repairs and improvements,” TRIP said in a press release.

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The National Research Transportation Group (TRIP) recently released its annual “Restoring the Interstate Highway System” report, which aims to provide the latest information on the Interstate system, including pavement conditions, bridge conditions, travel trends, traffic congestion levels, truck use and traffic safety.

The report—which looks at the Interstate system’s use, condition and benefits, and the findings of a 2019 report prepared by the Transportation Research Board, at the request of Congress as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act—includes data for the Interstate system in all states, such as:

  • Vehicle travel increases in 2000-18;
  • Pavements in poor condition;
  • Bridges in poor/structurally deficient condition;
  • Bridges in need of repair;
  • Bridges 50+ years old;
  • Congestion levels;
  • Travel by combination trucks;
  • Traffic fatality rate on Interstate versus non-Interstate roads;
  • Lives saved by Interstate safety features; and
  • Largest urban areas with no Interstate access.

According to the data, the U.S. average of Interstate bridges that are structurally poor or deficient comes in right around 3%. However, the state with the most structurally poor or deficient Interstate bridges is Rhode Island: 17% of its bridges fall into that scope.

The other top 10 states by percentage of structurally poor or deficient Interstate bridges are:

  • West Virginia – 14%;
  • Illinois – 8%;
  • Massachusetts – 6%;
  • New York – 6%;
  • Missouri – 5%;
  • Michigan – 5%;
  • Colorado – 5%;
  • Connecticut – 4%;
  • Hawaii – 4%; and
  • Washington – 4%.

According to the TRB report, the Interstate has a growing backlog of deficiencies as a result of age, heavy use and deferred reinvestment, and is in need of reconstruction and modernization. The report concludes that annual investment in the Interstate Highway System should be increased from $23 billion in 2018 to $57 billion annually over the next 20 years.

“The report released by TRIP confirms what American businesses experience every day—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 economic success and quality of life for every American, and we continue to urge bipartisan solutions to address this critical issue. “

The report also found that, since 2000, travel on the Interstate has increased at a rate nearly triple that at which new lane capacities are being added, resulting in heavy congestion during peak hours. Travel by combination truck also increased 45% from 2000-18, which brings its own concerns.

“Carrying more than half of truck travel, the Interstate Highway System is critical to the nation’s supply chain,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.

“With $75 billion in cost added to freight transportation each year and 67 million tons of carbon dioxide from trucks released into the air due to highway congestion, the United States cannot afford to wait any longer to make the investments necessary to address systemic and growing problems stemming from decades of neglect. It is past time for elected officials to provide sufficient and sustainable funding for Interstate highway improvements.”

Based on the findings, TRIP provided a set of recommendations, which includes:

  • The foundational reconstruction of Interstate highways, bridges and interchanges;
  • Improvement to roadway safety features;
  • System right-sizing, including upgrading of some roadway corridors to Interstate standards;
  • Adding needed additional highway capacity on existing routes;
  • Adding additional corridors; and
  • Modifying some urban segments to maintain connectivity while remediating economic and social disruption.

“The long-term vision that helped establish the current Interstate 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, and improve quality of life, adequate transportation investment and a sustainable, long-term funding source for the federal surface transportation program must remain a priority.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways; Transportation; Transportation Research Board (TRB)

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