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AASHTO Journal

U.S. October Road Traffic Continues Run of New Record Highs

Motor vehicle travel on all U.S. highways and streets increased 1.2 percent in October from a year earlier – adding 3.3 billion more vehicle miles – and continued a string of record-high volume levels.

The Federal Highway Administration in its latest monthly "Traffic Volume Trends" report said motorists racked up an estimated 275 billion vehicle miles in October as demand for roadway travel kept growing.

After traffic volume set an all-time yearly high in 2016, it is on pace for another record year in 2017.

traffic4.jpgThe FHWA said that in the 10 months of 2017 through October, traffic has increased 1.3 percent or by 34.6 billion vehicle miles.

That is often reflected in increasing roadway congestion levels and public cries for greater investment in highway improvements and other mobility projects to lessen the time spent stuck in traffic.

The growth has come despite that gasoline prices nationwide have risen this year by an average of 25 cents per gallon.

State departments of transportation and other agencies have been trying to keep pace with demand by accelerating projects where they can, by adding more transit options and through use of congestion-pricing tolls and innovative lane-management practices.

The traffic growth has not always been steady in 2017, although each month has shown a gain from the same month in 2016.

For instance, the FHWA said September saw only a 0.3 percent year-over-year increase after a 1.4 percent gain in August, as powerful hurricanes and their aftermath slowed activity in the South Gulf states and spurred a huge evacuation in Florida.

During October, roadway traffic rose the most in the West at 2.5 percent, while it rebounded in the South Atlantic region with a 1.8 percent gain. The Northeast saw a 1.1 rise and the South Gulf region a 0.5 percent increase, but traffic flattened to show no gain in the overall North Central area.

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