Two authoritative reports released in mid-September that detail the continued drag on the U.S. economy by traffic congestion and mobility have put the spotlight back on the congressional failure to act on a long-term transportation infrastructure bill.

On September 21, the American Transportation Research Institute and Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations released a report identifying 250 major chokepoints and bottlenecks along highways that are critical to the nation's freight transportation system.  The majority of the locations monitored were urban interstate interchanges.

The top 10 freight bottleneck areas are: Chicago, Ill.: I-290 at I-90/I-94; Fort Lee, N.J.: I-95 at SR 4; Houston, Texas: I-45 at U.S. 59; Houston: I-10 at I-45; Houston: I-10 at U.S. 59; Gary, Ind.: I-65 at I-80; Austin, Texas: I-35; Chicago: I-90 at I-94 (North); Atlanta, Ga.: I-285 at I-85 (North); and Los Angeles, Calif.: SR 60 at SR 57.

The Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) “Urban Mobility Report,” co-sponsored by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation and released September 27, finds traffic congestion in 2010 costing the U.S. economy $101 billion. It resulted in an average 34 hours of lost time per person and cost every commuter more than $700.

ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane issued the following statement about the studies. “Everyone who drives already knows congestion robs parents of time with their children and unnecessarily drives up the cost of everything Americans buy. The real news in the Texas Transportation Institute report is the projection that traffic congestion costs will skyrocket another 25% in the next five years if we maintain the status quo.

“September 30 marks two years since the last federal highway and transit investment law expired. Members of Congress continue to delay action on a new multi-year bill as their constituents idle each day in mind-numbing traffic congestion. It’s inexcusable. 

“Robust new investments aimed at creating additional transportation infrastructure capacity are the key to getting motorists, businesses and the economy moving forward again.”

Associated Equipment Distributors President and CEO Toby Mack added his comments about the new TTI report.
“The Urban Mobility Report once again shows how our crumbling transportation network is undermining the U.S. economy. It is not simply a matter of inconvenience. Traffic congestion costs us more than $100 billion per year, wastes billions of gallons of gasoline, and saddles businesses with inefficient delivery networks that drive up the costs of goods and services.

“TTI's findings underscore the need for increased investment in our nation's transportation assets. Unfortunately, Congress and the president have failed to focus on a new, multiyear highway bill and some on Capitol Hill are even calling for massive program cuts. We hope this new report serves as a wake-up call about the need to make a new surface transportation reauthorization a top priority.”