Transportation companies that complete long-haul and regional - and sometimes even local - deliveries can't avoid taking the highway. Route optimization software directs drivers and ensures they are taking the shortest runs, likely taking them over the highway in the process.
Because highways are so critical to the nation's transportation system, they must be well-maintained and in good condition. But with so much traffic flowing across these roads, it can be difficult for the government to ensure the maintenance funds can keep up with repair needs.
Report shows highway infrastructure will need significant repairs
According to a new report from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian-leaning think tank, the interstate highway system will soon need a significant overhaul. Highways make up just 2.5 percent of the nation's roads but carry 25 percent of vehicle miles traveled, meaning they are heavily utilized by drivers and need to be repaired frequently.
Regular repairs aside, the Reason Foundation noted the majority of the pavement on traditional highways is nearing the end of its 50-year lifespan and will need to be replaced in the coming years. The organization revealed almost the entire American highway system will need to be reconstructed over the next 20 years to address this issue.
The projects total costs, including reconstruction and expansion, could add up to $983 billion - a significant sum, especially as the government faces large budget deficits and lawmakers can't seem to agree on where to continue spending and where to cut funds. This has many people arguing over how the project will be funded and how future maintenance will be paid for.
The organization has suggested per-mile tolling is the best solution, as opposed to a per-gallon gas tax, because those who use the roads most pay for more of their upkeep. Per-mile tolls can also be changed to ensure highways that require more frequent or larger repairs collect more funds. However, this strategy has been criticized by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which has stressed that the Reason Foundation's assumptions on tolls don't take into account public opinion.
"Despite what toll advocates and financiers try and tell the public, tolling existing interstates is a wildly unpopular concept," said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. "Voters and lawmakers in Virginia and North Carolina have demonstrated this vividly in recent months. The public continues to see tolls as an intrusive and inefficient tax."