Someone has finally put a price on the time (and fuel) wasted by trucks idled along America's highways. A February report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimated that highway bottlenecks around the nation idled trucks for more than 243 million hours in 2004, costing U.S. trucking companies a whopping $7.8 billion.
The study, which calculates the delays' direct cost to users at $32.15 an hour, looked at four major types of truck-related delays along freight corridors, including constraints at interchanges, signalized intersections, hold-ups caused by steep grades, and lane reductions. When truck deliveries are delayed by congestion, freight transportation costs increase due to unnecessary fuel consumption, lost driver time and productivity, and disruption of pickup and delivery schedules.
"Ultimately, it is the consumer who will pay the price when increasing congestion forces the cost of goods on store shelves to go up," says American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves. "This should encourage all Americans to insist on highway projects that improve the mobility and reliability of freight."
The study, conducted for the FHWA by Cambridge Systematics Inc. and the Battelle Memorial Institute, also listed the metropolitan areas with the worst bottlenecks. The cities singled out for this dubious distinction were Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Atlanta; Dallas-Fort Worth; Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and Portland, Ore.
A link to the FHWA study is available from the agency's Web site (www.fhwa.dot.gov).