AASHTO Journal

FHWA Says 2016 Set Record High for Roadway Traffic Volume, Pressure on Infrastructure

The Federal Highway Administration said new estimates for vehicle miles traveled show that traffic volume on U.S. roads rose 2.8 percent in 2016 to a new record high of more than 3.2 trillion.

That was also 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."

capitol0816.jpgThe data from the FHWA's latest "Traffic Volume Trends" report – a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel – show that U.S. drivers accumulated 87.5 billion more vehicle miles last year than in 2015.

The report showed that they drove more than 263.6 billion vehicle miles in December, for a 0.5 percent rise from December 2015.

This latest evidence of increasing traffic pressure on U.S. roads and bridges comes as states await their 2017 federal highway and transit funding increases for 2017, which Congress had authorized and paid for in the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. For the budget year that began Oct. 1 Congress has twice frozen most federal spending at 2016 levels pending a final budget accord.

The current budget extension expires April 28. If lawmakers agree on a full-year budget by then, Congress could clear the way for state departments of transportation and transit agencies to receive their 2017 funding increases in addition to 2016 funding levels they have been able to use so far.

The FHWA report also comes as President Trump continues to talk about his goal of getting Congress to approve a major infrastructure investment program – details still pending – over the next decade that would route about $100 billion more each year into transportation and other projects that would help improve mobility and replace aging facilities.

Trump told an audience at a Feb. 18 rally in Melbourne, Fla., that "we need members of both parties to join hands and work with us to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build new roads, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and highways and railways all across our great nation."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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