General Accounting Office (GAO) report on the current state
of the Interstate Highway System (IHS) found the physical condition
of the system has improved the last decade, but growing capacity
needs are not being met. U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the
Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
requested the report.
2000, the IHS extended over 46,000 miles in length and comprised
209,655 lane miles. According to the report, 24 percent of all
car and truck travel nationwide occurs on the IHS. While the
report notes significant improvements to the structural quality
of our interstate highways and bridges, it also says relatively
small capacity increases have not matched the demands placed
on the system by larger increases in traffic. As a result, congestion
and other costs related to capacity shortages continue to grow.
a positive note, the new GAO report outlines the improvement
of the quality of our roads, but it also clearly shows that
congestion remains a serious problem in America, not only for
travelers and commuters, but for our overall economy as well,"
Young said. "This report reaffirms my commitment to addressing
the growing congestion problem throughout the entire nation."
report highlights: Truck travel on the Interstates accounted
for more than 41 percent of total truck miles traveled in 2000.
Trucks carry more than 69 percent of the tons shipped in the
states and 72 percent of the value of goods shipped in the country.
The number of structurally deficient interstate bridges declined
by over 22 percent from 1992 through 2000. The percentage of
funds the federal government has provided specifically for use
on the IHS has declined from more than half of all federal highway
aid prior to 1992 to 17.5 percent during the period 1992 through
2001. The overall density of traffic on all major U.S. roads
has been increasing over the past decade and traffic density
is higher on urban highways than on rural ones. Traffic on rural
Interstate highways is increasing at a faster rate than on any
other class of roads. Interstate highways account for only four
percent of the capacity on urban roads but they carry 24 percent
of all metropolitan area traffic.
1992, 1.4 percent of IHS projects were for new construction,
5.6 percent were for road widening, and the remaining 93 percent
were for reconstruction, relocation, restoration and rehabilitation,
or resurfacing projects. From 1990 to 2000, interstate lane
miles increased 6 percent, population increased 13 percent,
licensed drivers increased 14 percent, vehicle miles traveled
increased 39 percent, and freight by intercity truck ton-miles
increased 40 percent.
study estimates an annual 6.9 percent increase in Latin American
truck traffic in the United States (resulting in almost a doubling
in 10 years). Ninety-six percent of this traffic will be on