Report Says $57b Annually Needs to be Spent on US Highways

In the wake of the Baltimore Bridge disaster, what is the state of America's transportation infrastructure?

Source : Pexels, Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura

July 10, 2024

Author : Patty Allen

The disastrous accident at the Baltimore Bridge earlier in the year highlighted a crisis in America's infrastructure, with six dead workers and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The bridge is part of Interstate 695, connecting it to the ninth-largest American port and a major roadway for the region. 

In the wake of the calamity, officials have been surveying the accident site, to restore the bridge and port access, and restore connectivity. It took almost 11 weeks to remove the ship, Dali, from the accident site. 

Importantly, the Baltimore Bridge serves as a key connector for Maryland's commerce over interstate highways. Highways are crucial when it comes to maintaining a strong supply chain, and keeping American industry moving. 

No matter, how goods reach American shores, by ship or flight, it has to travel the last leg on our trusty (or not so, in some cases) roads. 

TRIP (The Road Information Program), a national transportation research nonprofit, has come out with a new report that found in 2022 alone, 19.7 billion tons of freight worth $18.8 trillion was moved inside the continental USA, of which 72% was freight carried by trucks. 

Since the turn of the century, the traveling miles of  large commercial vehicles has increased by 44%. This is expected to more than double in the next 25 years. By 2050, freight moved by trucks is expected to increase 93% in value (inflation-adjusted dollars).

This won't be feasible with the current state of infrastructure. The report from TRIP states that highway spending must be increased to $57 billion annually for the next two decades from the more modest $18 billion in 2018.

The IIJA has allocated $350 billion for highways and bridges over five years, starting from 2021 to 2026. As we have been reporting, many crucial construction projects across federal, state, and local levels have been possible because of the funds received from the $1 trillion-worth IIJA.

Additionally, the FHWA has requested a budget of $60.8 billion for the fiscal year 2024, which, when combined with the $9.5 billion in advanced appropriations included in the IIJA, yielded a total of $70.3 billion. Additionally, the budget suggests repurposing $60 million through the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program (ATIIP) to effect meaningful change, especially in underprivileged neighborhoods. Undoubtedly, substantial financing is allocated to our nation's infrastructure—even surpassing the recommendations made by experts. 

But as we reported previously, although the US economy seems to have made it through the looming recession scare, it still hasn't stabilized. Inflation is at an all-time high, and when the IIJA was signed in 2021, things that could have been bought with the same amount back then, cannot be procured now. 

The recent onslaught of projects keeps us hopeful that our aging infrastructures will soon be ready to meet the demands of the future. 

Category : Investment in Infrastructure Bridges Freeways and Highways

Related Article