From the New America Foundation this week comes a brief report on the efficiency losses of America's outmoded infrastructure. The costs approach $200 billion per year, with sitting in traffic making up over half that total. An excerpt:
Congestion has worsened as the expansion of the highway system has failed to keep pace with usage. Since 1980, mileage of U.S. highways increased 4.5% while the number of passenger cars increased 12.7% and the number of trucks increased 56.4%. As a result, the amount of time wasted has increased dramatically over the past few decades rising from 14 hours per driver in 1982 to 34 hours in 2009. The cost of these delays has increased from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009 dollars. Congestion has also slowed truck freight. Truckers experience 243 million hours of bottleneck delay annually at a cost of $32.15 per hour, in addition to general traffic delay. Given that oil prices have increased dramatically in recent years, and are likely to remain elevated, the cost of congestion and poor infrastructure are rising.
The growth in truck freight on the roads is really remarkable. I would be surprised if it weren't more efficient to move that freight by rail, even at the cost of displacing people from the rail system.