Our Region’s Road Network
Past and Present Importance of Roads
Unlike rail, river, runway and pipeline, our road network is the only freight mode owned and maintained solely by public agencies. Villages, townships, cities, counties, and states operate and maintain roads across our OKI region. Since they are publicly owned, the roadway network has traditionally been the primary focus for transportation planners. Road data from traffic counts to crash reports have been readily available for analysis; therefore, tools have been in place for decades to address road problems, such as congestion and safety. This performance summary will show that roads remain a top priority to transportation planners. And this priority doesn’t come from a sense of tradition or because they are a public responsibility; it’s because they carry the greatest volume of freight from a tonnage and value perspective at every level — regional, state and national. Today, roads remain our dominant freight mode.
What Does OKI Mean by “Truck?”
When we talk about freight on roads, we mean trucks. When you think of a truck carrying freight, you might only picture a big 18-wheeler. However, in freight transportation planning, we consider the wide range of truck sizes that supply us with a myriad goods. In the United States, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides a Vehicle Classification chart that establishes a hierarchy of 12 categories of motorized vehicles. In this Road Freight System Performance Summary, the truck sizes most discussed will include FHWA Vehicle Classes 5 or 6 through 12. As data is used, we will point out whether Class 5, single-unit two-axle, trucks are included.
FHWA Vehicle Classification Chart
Source: United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Vehicle Classifications. (2022).
- Of the region’s 325,090 crashes from 2016 through 2020, truck-involved crashes comprised only 6.4 percent, or 20,889 crashes. Although truck-involved crashes have dropped 18 percent over the past five years, the number of truck-involved fatalities and serious injuries has increased. Despite these statistics, most truck-involved crashes (more than 91 percent) caused only property damage, with no injuries reported.
- Between 2016 and 2020, 16 bridge locations in the region had a combined 100 truck strikes due to lack of sufficient vertical clearance. Fourteen of those strike locations are railroad bridge overpasses.
- More than 40 percent of the 2,600 miles of Alternative Fuels Corridor lane miles in the OKI region have been designated for EV charging infrastructure.
- Between 2014 and 2020, the region saw increases in good and fair bridge conditions. During the same time, every county reported an increase in their percent of bridges in poor condition.
- The lack of sufficient short- and long-term truck parking infrastructure creates safety and reliability issues across the region. Findings show that trucks arrive to park in designated public and private spaces chiefly from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The time trucks remain parked varies; however, the largest percentage of dwell time is either less than one hour or more than 10 hours. Further findings show that undesignated roadside truck parking on interstates and on/off ramps is more evident outside the I-275 ring. And Boone County was shown to bear the largest share of our region’s undesignated parking.
- In 2019, trucks comprised only 9.8 percent of the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for all motor vehicles. Hamilton County handles about 40 percent of the region’s total truck VMT.
- A sampling of the region’s interstate locations provides a snapshot of the tremendous growth in truck traffic that occurred between 2009 and 2018 — with some locations increasing from 94 percent to more than 416 percent.
- In 2021, the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor saw the highest, most unreliable AM and PM peak truck travel time in the OKI region.
- Butler County is home to the top three, least-safe, least-redundant, highest-delay, and highest-publicly important rail grade crossings for trucks in the OKI region.
- It is estimated that trucks contribute about 66 percent NOx and 75 percent PM2.5 of the region’s 2019 total on-road mobile emissions. The greatest source of truck emissions does not occur from delay or congestion, but rather from the high number of vehicle miles trucks travel in, out, within, and through the OKI region.
- Trucks account for almost all Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) incidences reported for the past two decades. During this time, the number of truck-related HAZMAT incidences has increased by more than 145 percent and the quantity of HAZMAT released has risen more than 256 percent.
- Trucks carry most of the region’s freight by both weight and value. In 2017, trucks carried 67.5 percent, or 116.6 million tons, while the value of truck freight was $189,807 million, or 74.3 percent of the region’s total freight value.