AASHTO Journal, 29 January 2016
The Federal Highway Administration said vehicle miles traveled in November on all U.S. roads reached an estimated 253.2 billion VMT, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier and continuing a trend that should make 2015 the heaviest traffic volume year in U.S. history.
For the first 11 months of 2015, the agency said, total U.S. driving reached 2.88 trillion miles, up 3.5 percent from the same point in 2014. That means the pace of VMT growth increased as the year continued, aided by low fuel prices and favorable weather for travel.
The FHWA said the latest data reaffirms “the growing demands challenging the nation’s roads” and underscores the value of new “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” or FAST Act, which will invest $305 billion in U.S. surface transportation infrastructure – including $226 billion for roads and bridges – over the next five years.
That law provides some moderate growth in federal highway spending and targets some of the Highway Trust Fund spending into new freight-related projects.
However, infrastructure investment advocates say it won’t go far in reducing the backlog of road and bridge projects delayed for lack of funding, and many states are taking steps to increase their own transportation revenues.
The FHWA also said that on a seasonally adjusted basis, which evens out seasonal variations in travel trends, November traffic volume by passenger vehicles, buses and commercial trucks reached 264 billion miles, up 3.4 from the previous November and representing a slight 0.1 percent rise from October 2015.
In addition, it said total mileage grew in all U.S. regions of the United States. Hawaii’s VMT growth of 8.9 percent in November led the nation, followed by Idaho at 7.7 percent and Florida at 7 percent.