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  August 29th, 2015 | Written by

U.S. Transportation System Seen as Deteriorating

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  • The deterioration of the U.S. transportation system may create inefficiencies that threaten the economy.
  • Failing roads and waterways will increase congestion in canals, ports, and highways over the next 10 years.
  • Adopting technological innovations will help alleviate the impact of a weakening transportation network.

The United States boasts one of the most advanced transportation networks in the world, but its system is in decline. So says a recent report from Startfor Global Intelligence.

Congestion plagues U.S. highways and waterways making transportation less efficient, notes Startfor. “And the lack of attention paid to national infrastructure recently belies its importance,” the report says.

“Congestion in the largest consumer market in the world is bound to affect the entire global economy.”

One element of a fix to crumbling infrastructure is investment in transportation networks. Yet the political pressure to invest in infrastructure in the near future is absent, according to Startfor, “largely because the system’s breakdown is occurring so gradually.”

Another way to cope with declining infrastructure might be viewed as work-arounds. “Some companies are seeking to bypass the failings of the current system altogether,” says Stratfor. “Amazon is pushing to allow drone deliveries, which would essentially bypass the current transportation infrastructure, dramatically reducing the strain on roadways in urban centers.”

Other companies have focused their resources on introducing visibility into their supply chains by adopting methods for tracking the individual items within their system. “While such technology does not directly reduce traffic on roadways and waterways, it does allow logistics professionals to pinpoint areas of inefficiency,” noted Stratfor. “This technology… could help make increasingly strained supply chains more efficient.”

Increased visibility has led to some logistical solutions. Some companies have developed or are developing Uber-like apps for trucking that try to reduce the distance between the point where a truck drops material off and where it picks up its next shipment. “Some companies are working on a program that would enable truck drivers to identify nearby freight for pick-up, dramatically reducing mileage—particularly in the first mile,” says Stratfor. “The search for solutions illustrates a growing need to work around the inefficiencies inherent in the system.”