FHWA data: New freight traffic data point to more congestion on key highways

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released on Sept. 21 new freight data pinpointing key traffic chokepoints on some of the nation’s busiest roads that will help transportation planners, operators and private shippers and carriers better target their investments and plan their delivery routes.

“It is more important than ever to make sure we spend hard earned taxpayer dollars on projects that will create good jobs and help businesses save money,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This information will help local governments and business owners make sound decisions on where investments should be made.”

The data show congestion increased at 61 percent of the 100 identified freight bottlenecks from 2009 to 2010. The data unveiled today builds on an initiative to capture information on truck travel speeds at 100 locations around the country, gathered from GPS and satellite technology in commercial trucks that measures how fast trucks travel at any given place and point in time on key freight routes. FHWA has now expanded this to 250 locations.

“Our highways are critical to commerce and a healthy economy,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Accurate and comprehensive information on freight movement will allow government agencies and the private sector to make smart, data-driven transportation decisions.”

State and local transportation agencies can use the information to help prioritize highway investments to target critical congestion needs. Businesses and freight companies can use it to more strategically time and choose their routes to avoid congested areas when possible.

Developed through a multi-year FHWA research initiative with the American Transportation Research Institute, this study represents a first of its kind effort to capture information exclusively based on truck travel speeds from around the country through on board GPS and satellite technology.