Beyond Traffic 2045: USDOT studies transportation infrastructure trends
As the nation struggles with mounting infrastructure needs and dwindling revenues to pay for them, federal officials this week rolled out a plan to get the nation talking – about needs of the transportation system in this country over the next 30 years.
Beyond Traffic: 2045 is a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) analysis of what to expect in terms of transportation infrastructure trends over the next three decades, and how transportation officials hope to start a “national conversation” about transportation needs and policy to positively affect those needs.
USDOT bills the report as “an invitation to the American public – including the users, developers, owners and operators of the transportation network and the policy officials who shape it – to have a frank conversation about the shape, size and condition of that system and how it will meet the needs and goals of our nation for decades to come.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx notes in the report that the nation’s transportation problems are not all just lack of money. “We have too often misstated the problem as simply one of funding when it may be one of both resources and design,” he said.
The report discusses trends that are shaping the country’s transportation system, what impact these transportation infrastructure trends are having on every mode of transportation – highways, transit, pedestrian and bicycle, aviation, intercity and freight rail, maritime and pipeline – and determining what outcomes can result from those trends with an eye toward policy.
The report analyzes the condition and performance of today’s transportation system and also offers a look into the future as to how that system will perform 30 years from now if the status quo remains. It also looks at demographics to see how that will affect transportation. Safety issues, design change and policies can all affect transportation over the next three decades, according to the report.
Consider these issues:
- By 2045, the United States economy is forecast to grow by 115 percent to $36.7 trillion, and the transportation sector will represent about $1.6 trillion of total Gross Domestic Product.
- By 2040, nearly 30,000 miles of our busiest highways will be congested daily.
- Truck congestion wastes $27 billion in time and fuel each year.
- The increase in ship sizes – cargo vessels to tankers – suggests port upgrades are needed.
- Surge damage from Superstorm Sandy damaged electrical systems, highways, rail tracks, runways and port cargo. The cost to the United States economy was about $65 billion.
- Overall United States infrastructure gets a grade of D+.
These are just some of the issues and transportation infrastructure trends outlined in the USDOT report that will challenge the country’s transportation system in the future, and why a national conversation is being sought relative to how to approach these issues now.