By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor ARTBA

Vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. continues to climb, with data released late last month by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) showing the nation’s driving rose for an 19th straight month. The data published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report shows driving reached 259.9 billion miles in September 2015, and nearly 2.4 trillion miles year-to-date.

FHWA said the data “reinforces calls to increase federal investment in transportation infrastructure as demands on the nation’s highway system continue to grow.” The agency said the figures also confirm the trends identified earlier in the year in the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) report “Beyond Traffic,” which projects a rapidly growing population, increased freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas and a transportation system facing more frequent extreme weather events and increased gridlock nationwide unless changes are made in the near-term.

The FHWA report also includes seasonally-adjusted data, which enable vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) comparisons with August or any other month in any year, from the U.S. DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The seasonally-adjusted vehicle miles traveled for September 2015 were 264 billion miles, a 3.4 percent increase in adjusted VMT compared to the previous September.