High-speed expressways functionally operate like freeways but have at-grade intersections that provide critical access to communities via minor roadways. These intersections provide key economic entry points to jobs and economic development and serve as lifelines for rural communities. They also provide ingress and egress for emergency vehicles and serve as evacuation routes in cases of natural disaster. As planning, design, operational and/or safety concerns arise at these at-grade intersections a typical response from concerned agencies can include either closure of such intersections leading to inequitable adverse economic and other impacts on the surrounding communities, install warning signs, or explore the construction of high-cost grade-separated interchanges.
Historically, transportation agencies’ main priority has been to fund, build and expand highways to safely meet the growing demand for vehicle travel. Their project prioritization processes, therefore, have focused primarily on improving capacity along the most congested major routes. Many of these agencies, however, have experienced a shift in priorities toward the maintenance of existing infrastructure, the facilitation of multi-modal transportation, and the operations and management of existing infrastructure—applications that can be more challenging to fund.
This project will develop and validate a multi-criteria decision-making approach for enhancing the longevity of transportation infrastructure built on problematic test site conditions that includes poor subsoil conditions. In the United States, the annual cost of damage to constructed facilities built on problematic subsoil conditions was approximately $13 billion, and a significant portion of this amount can be attributed to damages sustained by pavement infrastructure. With continuing pressure on transportation agencies across the nation, several techniques including replacing the existing material and treating the problematic soils were implemented.
Transportation finance has become increasingly unreliable in recent years, due to the declining revenue available from the motor fuel tax, increasing auto efficiency, and political reluctance to raise taxes. In many states, this has led to deferred maintenance, poor road quality, and failure to satisfy demand for better infrastructure. Some states have relied on toll revenue and other user fees to overcome these revenue challenges.
A road network, consisting of different, but interdependent, transportation infrastructure assets, such as pavements, bridges, signs, etc., supports the mobility, economy, and safety of our society as a whole. According to the 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card, the U.S. highway system has been underfunded for years. In 2015, 21% of highway pavements are in poor condition, which costs motorists $120.5 billion in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs. Over all, there is a need of $836 billion in repairs and capital investment for America’s highway system.
While the federal government spends billions on transit projects each year, many regions have poor coordination of services, with some regions having over 21 transit agencies failing to offer integrated schedules, fares and services, while other regions have large swaths that are completely unserved. Many of these inefficiencies are not due to a lack of technology or funding, but to failing of the local funding and governmental structure.