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Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: One Picture Tells it All When It Comes to US Highway Infrastructure


Vehicle Miles Travelled by Cars and Trucks Continue to Soar, While Lane Miles Grow Slowly

Dec. 14, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff


Everyone knows there are issues with US highway and road infrastructure, the main issue being seemingly ever growing congestion, mostly in major urban areas, costing shippers billions in logistics costs.


The chart below, from the American Transportation Research Institute based on US government data, tells the tale. As can be seen, US vehicle miles travelled (VMT) have risen dramatically since after World War II versus road mileage (total distance of paid roads), and the more recent measure of lane miles (basically the width of highways times their length.) No wonder we're congested.



Source: ATRI


ATRI says the increase in VMT has been roughly the same for both cars and freight trucks. It also notes the interesting fact that the US has more than twice as many rural lane-miles as urban lane-miles, yet urban roadways account for 70% of the nation's VMT.


The ATRI report also says increases in gasoline and diesel fuel are the way to go to fund more spending on highways, saying such taxes are highly efficienct, whereas the VMT tax being pushed by some in the face of increasingly fuel efficient vehicles would require a collection and enforcement bureaucracy almost as large as the IRS.

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