By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA

New data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, in the U.S. continues to climb and is on pace for a record-setting year, demonstrating another need for Congress to pass a robust, multi-year highway and transit investment bill, ARTBA and the FHWA say.

The monthly “Traffic Volume Trends” report released June 24 shows that Americans drove 267.9 billion VMT in April, the most ever driven in April and the highest mileage for the first quarter of any year, “underscoring the need for greater investment in transportation infrastructure,” according to a release from the FHWA. The report also shows the nation’s driving has increased steadily for 14 consecutive months.

FHWA used the data to argue the need to make critical investments to fix aging roads and crumbling bridges, and to ensure the safety of the U.S. transportation system, pointing to the Obama Administration’s “GROW AMERICA Act,” a six-year, $478 billion transportation infrastructure funding plan. “One in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic and 45 percent of Americans do not have access to transit. Increased transportation investments will help communities keep pace with the nation’s expanding economy, and the traveling needs of the growing public,” the agency said.

ARTBA also notes the data shows VMT has increased 36 percent since 1993, when the federal motor fuels excise rate was last adjusted. ARTBA’s own “Getting Beyond Gridlock” funding proposal calls for a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans.  It would fund a $401 billion, six-year highway and public transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for at least the next 10 years.

See the ARTBA analysis of the FHWA data.