Highways, roads and bridges are the backbone of the US transportation system, yet increasing demand, advancing age, and damage caused by natural disasters has brought these crucial links to a state of critical condition. In response, the US Department of Transportation has announced $871.2m in Emergency Relief to make vital repairs to the nation’s central artery of commerce and economic activity. A report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) states that 47,052 out of the nation’s 616,087 bridges received a structurally deficient rating, with the average age of the deficient bridges being 62 which is well beyond the functional lifespan of 40. 

Autonomous vehicles. Digital platforms. While the US transportation sector addresses the effects of the past, many of its leaders are preoccupied with a vision of the future. Public transport and infrastructure planning, design and management is rapidly transforming through the influence of digitalization. Data captured from urban mobility platforms and apps are enabling city planners and transit operators insight into how populations navigate their environment and respond to their needs. While intelligent transport systems (ITS) are being trialled around the globe in response to an increasing number of vehicles on the road – a number expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050 according to research company Navigant. Utah recently announced a $50m partnership with Panasonic to develop “the nation’s most advanced transportation network”, which will improve safety and mobility through real-time data sharing between vehicles, infrastructure, roadways, and traffic operators, meanwhile China is already building new roads solely for the use of self-driving cars.

As human and non-human drivers increasingly share the road, engineers are developing adaptive traffic control systems to reduce accident risks. In Pittsburgh, USA, a system developed by the Robotics Institute at Carnegies Mellon University has been operating at 50 intersections since 2012. Since it was launched Rapid Flow Tech has reduced wait times at intersections by up to 40% and journey times in the city by 25%, while vehicle emissions have dropped by up to 20% – improving the air quality of the state.

Intelligent transportation systems are an exciting development in the industry – the market size is projected to reach $30.7bn by 2023, up from $23.4bn in 2018, at a CAGR of 5.7%. The key factors driving this market include increasing concerns related to public safety and increasing traffic congestion problem. As aging public transport infrastructures are upgraded to meet the demands of bigger and more complex populations and vehicles, the demand for transport professionals with digital and project management skills will only increase.

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