An Analysis of State DOT Options for Transporting Future Freight Flows on the U.S. Interstate Highway System (Freight on the Interstate Highway System: Current State, Forecasts, and Alternatives)

Over the course of its history, there has been a dramatic increase in automobile and truck traffic, from 54 million vehicles in the U.S. in 1956 to 237 million in 2006. Interstate planners did not foresee the rapid growth of freight transportation on the interstate highways. Representing just over 3% of the nation’s highway system mileage, the interstate highway system carries about 24% of all roadway traffic. Truck transportation on the interstates comprises almost 20% of this total traffic and further growth is expected in the coming years. Planners predict that growth in freight traffic will occur in both urban and suburban areas, resulting in congestion, higher shipping costs, higher consumer prices, and further stress on the environment. Our nation’s international competitiveness depends on a variety of factors, one of which is the efficiency of transport and Interstate highway system. The Interstate system has reduced manufacturing and distribution costs in the domestic market, which in turn makes U.S. products more competitive in world markets. Thus, the highway system is vital in maintaining the superiority of U.S. productivity. The Interstate system was predicated on forecasts for 1976 – a 20-year design life. Much has changed. Planners never could have seen the way Americans now commute from the suburbs, nor have predicted the impact of building highways through downtown urban areas of large cities. Urban sprawl, coupled with increased freight trucking traffic, has led to congestion and delays on these superhighways which is hurting the productivity of our country. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current state of freight on the Interstate system, determine the attitude of state Department of Transportations (DOTs) towards interstate freight, and suggest options for freight transport and the future of the Interstate system. This study is based on a comprehensive literature review and surveys of state departments of transportation. For this study, four different sources were used to gather current state DOT attitudes towards the Interstate system: an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) survey and conference results , TRB’s state visit program, a self-conducted University of Virginia (UVA) survey, and literature on current state initiatives. The research demonstrates that state DOTs are concerned about congestion and freight flows on the Interstate system.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This study was supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program. This report was prepared for the Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center (MAUTC).
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Virginia, Charlottesville

    Center for Transportation Studies, P.O. Box 400742
    Charlottesville, VA  United States  22904-4742

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Short, Andrew J
  • Publication Date: 2007-1-3


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Glossary; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 112p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01046434
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UVACTS-14-5-112
  • Files: UTC, NTL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 13 2007 6:04PM