The Coming Freight Tsunami

A person standing by the interstate in 2035 will see a truck pass them every 3.5 seconds

A recent report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials predicts a tsunami of freight hitting U.S. shores by 2035 due in part to truck volumes approaching “staggering levels” on the Interstate Highway system.

The report, titled “America”s Freight Challenge,” is the latest of a series of reports to assist the 12-member National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, created by Congress to make recommendations on the future of the nation”s transportation system.

“The Interstate system created the nation”s trucking industry, and made the U.S. No. 1 economically around the world,” said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsely. “But unless we act now, our transportation system will be overwhelmed by what is coming at us and become a barrier to trade.”

The report notes that in 2005, U.S. highways carried 77 percent of America”s freight when measured by tons and 92 percent of America”s freight measured by value.

Today 30 miles of Interstate Highways carry more than 50,000 trucks a day. By 2035, that will grow to 2,500 miles carrying more than 50,000 trucks daily. An average Interstate Highway mile carries 10,500 trucks; that will rise to 22,700 by 2035.

In addition, more than a third of the Interstate system will carry more than 25,000 trucks per day by 2035. That means for a motorist changing a tire on the side of the Interstate, a truck will pass him or her every 3.5 seconds, according to the report.