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Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future

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Live Webcast Event: December 6, 2018 at 11:00 AM EST

TRB Special Report 329: Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future explores pending and future federal investment and policy decisions concerning the federal Interstate Highway System. Congress asked the committee to make recommendations on the “features, standards, capacity needs, application of technologies, and intergovernmental roles to upgrade the Interstate System” and to advise on any changes in law and resources required to further the recommended actions. The report of the study committee suggests a path forward to meet the growing and shifting demands of the 21st century.

The prospect of an aging and worn Interstate System that operates unreliably is concerning in the face of a vehicle fleet that continues to transform as the 21st century progresses and the vulnerabilities due to climate change place new demands on the country’s transportation infrastructure. Recent combined state and federal capital spending on the Interstates has been about $20–$25 billion per year. The estimates in this study suggest this level of spending is too low and that $45–$70 billion annually over the next 20 years will be needed to undertake the long-deferred rebuilding of pavements and bridges and to accommodate and manage growing user demand. This estimated investment is incomplete because it omits the spending that will be required to meet other challenges such as boosting the system’s resilience and expanding its geographic coverage.

The committee recommends that Congress legislate an Interstate Highway System Renewal and Modernization Program (RAMP). This program should focus on reconstructing deteriorated pavements, including their foundations, and bridge infrastructure; adding physical capacity and operations and demand management capabilities where needed; and increasing the system’s resilience. The report explores ways to pay for this program, including lifting the ban on tolling of existing general-purpose Interstate highways and increasing the federal fuel tax to a level commensurate with the federal share of the required RAMP investment.

View videos, graphics, the press release, and a highlights page at interstate.trb.org.

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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Renewing the National Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25334.

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649 pages | 8.5 x 11
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/25334
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