Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System
Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future. The recommendations of the committee are included in their Blueprint for Action. The recommendations are summarized below:
RECOMMENDATION 1. Congress should legislate an Interstate Highway System Renewal and Modernization Program (RAMP). This program, presumed to be pursued without sacrificing normal ongoing system maintenance and repair, should focus on reconstructing deteriorated pavement, including their foundations, and bridge infrastructure; adding physical capacity and traffic demand and operations management capabilities where needed; and increasing the system’s resilience.
RECOMMENDATION 2. A “rightsizing” component of RAMP should address current and emerging demands to extend the Interstate System’s length and scope of coverage, and to remediate economic, social, and environmental disruption caused by highway segments that communities find overly intrusive and are not deemed vital to network and intermodal traffic.
RECOMMENDATION 3. To better ascertain the spending levels required for RAMP investments, Congress should direct U.S. DOT and FHWA to join with the states to assess the foundational integrity of the system’s pavements and bridges, and identify where full reconstruction is needed based on accepted life-cycle cost principles.
RECOMMENDATION 4. To pay for RAMP investments, Congress should, as a near-term step, (1) increase the federal motor fuel tax as needed to a level commensurate with the federal share of the required investment, and (2) adjust the tax as needed to account for inflation and changes in vehicle fuel economy.
RECOMMENDATION 5. To provide states and metropolitan areas with more options for raising revenue for their share of RAMP investments and for managing the operations of Interstate segments that offer limited opportunity for physical expansion, Congress should lift the ban on tolling of existing general-purpose Interstate highways.
RECOMMENDATION 6. To ensure that the federal government’s long-term commitment to RAMP is not threatened by declining fuel tax revenues as the vehicle fleet and its energy sources evolve, Congress should prepare for the need to employ new federal and state funding mechanisms, such as the imposition of tolls or per-mile charges on users of the Interstate Highway System.
RECOMMENDATION 7. To support renewal and modernization investment decisions, Congress should direct, and provide sufficient funding for, U.S. DOT and FHWA to develop modeling tools and databases that track the full condition of Interstate assets, including interchanges, and their reconstruction history; can be used to assess transportation options that can supplement or substitute for additions to Interstate highway capacity; allow for the monitoring and modeling of network-level traffic flows on the Interstate Highway System; and further federal and state understanding of the demand for long-distance and interregional passenger and freight travel by highway and other modes.
RECOMMENDATION 8. Congress should direct U.S. DOT and FHWA, working with states, industry, and independent technical experts, to start planning the transition to more automated and connected vehicle operations.
RECOMMENDATION 9. Expanding upon earlier legislative directives (e.g., the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century [MAP-21] Act and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation [FAST] Act) for transportation agencies to consider resilience in long-term planning, Congress should direct U.S. DOT and FHWA to substantiate that state Interstate highway renewal and modernization projects have fully taken into account the need for resilience.
RECOMMENDATION 10. Congress should direct U.S. DOT and FHWA to ascertain the Interstate Highway System’s contribution to the country’s emission of greenhouse gases and recommend options for reducing this contribution in conjunction with reductions in other emissions of pollutants.
Click here to return to the main story about this report.