In 2005, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign released a report showing that heavy truck traffic in New Jersey would grow by 80% by 2020. The report's numbers were based on FHWA projections based on figures from 1998.
Since 2005, the FHWA has updated their projections, so I'm not reporting projections based on figures from a decade ago. Instead, I'm they're based on figures from half a decade ago.
To anyone that's spent any time on CA's highways, the numbers in these charts aren't surprising.
In 2002, truck's transported 1,208 million tons of cargo on CA's roads. That's more than three times as much commercial cargo as rail freight, air, water, pipelines and other sources combined. In short, there are a lot of trucks on the road.
However, the federal projections by 2035 are even more eye popping. The amount of truck carried freight grows by just about 150% to 3,063 million tons on CA's highways. Even worse news, the percentage of the total freight in CA that is carried by trucks increases to 81.3%. In short again, it's not just that truck traffic is growing...its actually growing faster than all other ways of moving commercial goods.
Given the recent disaster on the I-5, these figures should be even more alarming. It's easy to say that large freight trucks are generally involved in more fatal accidents, but more difficult to picture what a disaster similar to the one last week would look like if there were twice as many trucks on the road. Such a scenario, a truck losing control in an area with twice the truck traffic that currently exists, wasn't discussed in the press or mentioned by a government official.
Sometime in the coming weeks I'll look at how CALTRANS, SCAGS, and LA spend their transportation dollars in detail. However, given these figures, I'll make the fearless prediction that not much of it is being spent on rail freight projects, warehousing close to rail transfer stations or any other freight related project that isn't a highway widening.