‘Next Level Roads’ Plan to Bolster Logistics Industry Growth

‘Next Level Roads’ Plan to Bolster Logistics Industry Growth

By Joe McGuinness, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

They don’t call Indiana the Crossroads of America for nothing – each year, more than 720 million tons of freight crosses the state. Whether shipping, receiving, or just traveling through, the Hoosier state is heavily dependent on freight movement due to its deep-rooted agricultural and manufacturing industries. Indiana’s strategic location near regional, national and international trade routes makes it one of the five busiest states for commercial freight traffic in the U.S.

With a 60 percent increase in freight volume projected by 2040, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has placed a priority on improving the state’s transportation infrastructure. INDOT has worked hard to keep the pavement of its highways in good condition for many years – perhaps even past a typical life cycle. It is our goal to protect our investments with pavement preservation.

Pavement preservation activities on INDOT’s 29,000 lane miles of interstate, U.S. routes, and state roads include resurfacing, crack sealing, chip sealing, pothole repair and storm water drainage maintenance. The immediate benefits of pavement preservation include a smoother ride, fewer construction delays, better appearance, greater value, lower taxpayer cost, and improved safety.

The goal is to ensure the efficient, reliable, safe and secure movement of goods, materials, and services, which supports the state’s economic growth and competitive access to markets. INDOT is achieving the goal of preserving its pavement through Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Road initiative, which has earmarked more than $30 billion over 20 years to improving the condition of existing roads and bridges – both state and local – and has allowed INDOT to make record-setting investments to preserve and maintain its assets.

Over the next three fiscal years, INDOT plans to invest $3.6 billion in pavement and bridge preservation to state assets, along with $1 billion focused on local road and bridge preservation. This investment is in addition to regularly scheduled maintenance and preservation activities.

A lane mile of highway can cost more than $12 million to build. Reconstructing a road in poor condition can cost as much as 10 times more than the preservation work needed to keep it in good condition. Just $1 spent on chip or crack sealing can save $6 to $14 on future repairs.

Pavement preservation doesn’t just represent significant savings to taxpayers; it also translates into a flourishing freight and logistics industry, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The dots can easily be connected between infrastructure improvements and increased benefits to the freight industry.

Improved roads and bridges increase INDOT’s road system’s capacity, which leads to lower travel times and increased reliability of on-time shipments. The most obvious benefit is the lower costs of transporting goods. Reduced wear and tear from potholes, or other roadway deficiencies means companies or owner/operators spend less on fleet repairs. A focus on preservation now can also lead to less construction in the future – which means freight drivers spend less time re-routing or waiting in construction zones.

These reduced freight costs can also result in an overall reduction in the cost of services throughout the supply chain, benefitting the logistics industry substantially. Lower production costs allow shippers to choose suppliers from further away at a lower cost; to form networks that connect multiple distribution points through central operating hubs; and to reduce inventory by switching from bulk shipments to smaller, more frequent orders. Shippers can take the above savings to the bank, as they translate into increased revenues throughout the supply chain. Shippers can take these savings and reinvest into the company via lower prices for consumers, increased wages for their staff or company expansion for future growth.

The benefits realized by the freight and logistics industries is just one reason we at INDOT are making pavement preservation a priority. The goal of the pavement preservation initiative is to optimize construction dollars and keep Indiana’s pavement in the best condition possible, for as long as possible.

Indiana is investing in transportation at record levels, and that includes more than just our highways. Our sustained commitment to modernizing local roads and bridges is enhancing Indiana’s position as a leader in freight and logistics and empowering cities, towns, and counties to build communities that attract jobs and talent.

Category Features, Last Word