News & Press

Call for Overhaul to U.S. Interstate System

A new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, has called for an overhaul to the U.S. Interstate Highway system and a dramatic increase in spending to upgrade and modernize the now 60-year-old system.

The report, issued in early December, outlines a 20-year “blueprint for action” that includes creating an “Interstate Highway System Renewal and Modernization Program,” increasing the federal fuel tax, and allowing tolls and per-mile-charges on more interstate routes, among other measures.

To renew and modernize the nation’s U.S. Interstate highways over the next two decades would require between $45 billion to $70 billion annually, according to the report. Those estimates do not include funding required to reconfigure and reconstruct any of the interstates’ 15,000 interchanges or to make the system better equipped to stand up to the effects of climate change.

The committee that wrote the recent report said that Congress should direct the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to establish criteria for “rightsizing” the interstates, working in consultation with states, local communities, highway users and the general public. 

The study will likely be considered by Congress as it begins debate on the next surface transportation measure to replace the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act. That measure expires in 2020.