Major holiday weekends shine a spotlight on how our infrastructure copes with excess traffic. AAA predicts that during this July 4th holiday, 37.5 million Americans will hit the road to drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 2.9% over 2016.
Beyond the holidays, motor vehicle traffic on U.S. roads continues to increase year round. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that last year, traffic volume on U.S. roads rose 2.8% to a new record high of more than 3.2 trillion vehicles miles traveled. 2016 was the fifth straight year in which vehicle mileage increased on public roads throughout the nation, which the FHWA said “underscores the demands facing America’s roads and bridges, and reaffirms calls for greater investment in surface transportation infrastructure.”
Current FHWA reporting for the first four months of 2017 indicates that motor vehicle traffic on U.S. roads yet again increased, by 1.5% in year-over-year comparisons or by an additional 15.2 billion miles driven. This year’s growth means even more cars and trucks are vying for space on rural and urban roads than a year ago, increasing the wear and tear on pavement, bridges and other infrastructure.
The FHWA publishes the data in its Traffic Volume Trends report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel. National data is divided into five regions. During the month of April, the Western region – which includes Southern CA – logged both the highest number of vehicle miles traveled (62.2B) and the highest increase in traffic compared to the same month last year (2.4%).
The data showing heavier roadway traffic levels comes as the transportation industry awaits details on the government’s infrastructure investment plan. President Trump plans to leverage $200 billion in federal funding over 10 years into a total of $1 trillion invested in various types of public and private infrastructure projects. Vice President Pence recently reiterated that underlying commitment, telling the Associated Builders and Contractors that, “Our administration will not rest or relent until America has the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports and the best infrastructure in the world once again. So get ready to get busy.”
State departments of transportation and other industry groups are also waiting for the USDOT to issue $850 million in 2017 FASTLANE grants for highway freight corridors and other significant projects, and $500 million in TIGER grants that can be used for an array of transportation projects.
Source: AASHTO Journal