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News

Today’s Pickup: Highway conditions deteriorate, congestion holding steady, study says

Plus: Waymo releases data; Softbank opens up IPOs; Nevada truckers to retake driving tests.

I

Good day,

North Dakota, Virginia and Missouri have the best-performing, most cost-efficient state highway systems, while New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii have the worst. 

These are among the findings of the Reason Foundation’s 24th Annual Highway Report. The study finds nation’s highway conditions are deteriorating, especially in a group of problem-plagued states that are struggling to repair deficient bridges, maintain interstate highway pavement and reduce urban traffic congestion.

“In looking at the nation’s highway system as a whole, there was a decades-long trend of incremental improvement in some key categories, but the overall condition of the highway system has now worsened,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation, in a statement. “We see some improvement on structurally deficient bridges, but pavement conditions on rural and urban highways are declining, the rise in traffic fatalities is worrying, and we aren’t making needed progress on traffic congestion in our major cities.”

According to the report, pavement conditions on both urban and rural interstate highways are deteriorating, with the percentage of urban Interstate mileage in poor condition increasing in 29 of 50 states. One-third, 33 percent, of the nation’s urban Interstate mileage in poor condition is concentrated in just five states: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and New York.

With Americans spending an average of 35 hours a year stuck in traffic, traffic congestion levels are about the same as in the 2018 report. Drivers in New Jersey, New York, California, Georgia and Massachusetts experience the longest delays due to urban traffic congestion in their metro regions.

The study does not account for highway construction as a possible contributor to traffic congestion, or the need to support transportation options beyond the single occupancy vehicle as solutions to congestion. 

The most positive news is on bridges, where 39 states lowered the percentage of bridges deemed structurally deficient. Eighteen percent of or more of bridges remain structurally deficient in these five states: Iowa, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Did you know?

Trucker wait times at the Port of Laredo were up 33 percent for the month of July, to 199 minutes (more than three hours), compared to the prior month. (FreightWaves)

Quotable

“It’s the amazing entrepreneurs that survive these downturns.”

GGV partner Jeff Richards, on how venture funds can still invest successfully during a recession. (The Information)

In other news,

Softbank to let people invest in IPOs with less than $10 
The goal is to entice younger investors. (Bloomberg)

Waze traffic enrages Los Angeles residents 
Neighborhood streets that had been quiet during the morning commute are now seeing bumper-to-bumper traffic. (LAmag.com)

Adding high-speed transit to Interstate 70 to the mountains in Colorado would boost economy
A study shows the system would attract 4.2 million more visitors, and they could spend $548.6 million on food, lodging and entertainment. (Gazette.com)

Hundreds of truck drivers in Nevada have to retake their driving test or they will lose their license. 
A third-party audit found many truckers had not completed sections of the test. (Foxnews.com.)

Final thoughts,

In what appears to be a trend, Waymo, the self-driving spinoff of Alphabet, says it will share some of the data it’s gathered from its vehicles – for free. The move follows similar decisions by autonomous companies Argo AI, Aptiv and Cruise to open source some of their sensor data. Waymo’s first release includes 1,000 20-second driving segments, and each segment contains 200,000 frames. Freeing up the data will help researchers build models that predict other motorists and pedestrians’ behaviors, ideally making self-driving cars smarter and safer.

Hammer down, everyone!

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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