March 6, 2019

ATRI study: Easing traffic congestion yields long-term gains

Infrastructure improvements can help trucking companies conserve fuel, reduce emissions and lower bills, study shows.

By DC Velocity Staff

Improving the nation's highway infrastructure will help trucking companies conserve fuel and reduce emissions, according to a study by The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), released this week.

Nationally, congestion is estimated to have increased the trucking industry's fuel consumption by 6.87 billion gallons in 2016, adding $15.74 billion to its fuel bill, according to Arlington, Va.-based ATRI. Road improvements that ease congestion and increase average vehicle speeds can help alleviate the problem, the study authors said.

ATRI's analysis estimated the fuel consumption and emissions impacts of congestion at one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, the interchange of I-285 and I-85 in Atlanta, known locally as "Spaghetti Junction." The research combined ATRI's truck GPS database to determine vehicle speeds by time of day, daily trip counts collected by the Georgia Department of Transportation, and emissions factors derived from the U.S. EPA's state-of-the-science emissions model, the authors said.

The study found that increasing average vehicle speeds to 55 miles per hour, which now are as low as 14 miles per hour during the weekday evening commute, could save 4.5 million gallons of fuel annually-savings that benefit both local commuters and trucking companies. Reducing speeds could also reduce emissions by as much as 17 percent for fine particulate matter, 5.5 percent for smog-forming NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions, and 8 percent for carbon dioxide emissions, the authors said.

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