Long Range Strategic Vision for the I-95 Corridor: Supporting Economic Growth in a Carbon-Constrained Environment (2040 Strategic Vision)

About the 2040 Strategic Vision

The Strategic Vision project, conducted in 2008, formulated and analyzed a transportation vision for the entire region – one which accommodates key values and issues related to a global economy, climate change, energy, and quality of life, while re-examining the traditional modal mix and service options available for passenger and freight movement in the corridor.

The I-95 Region Represents:


  • 42 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas
  • 110 million residents (37% of the nation’s population, on 10% of its land)
  • 272 people per square mile (3+ times more densely populated than the U.S. as a whole, and more densely populated than many Western European countries)


  • $4.7 trillion economy (37% of US GDP)
  • 3rd largest economy in the world

  • Travel Among and within the I-95 Corridor’s 3 Mega Regions Supports the Region’s Economic Vitality

  • The I-95 Mega-regions Compete with 40 Mega-regions Around the World

  • The Coalition’s Strategic Vision Builds on Results from Nationally-Prominent and State/Regional Visioning Efforts

The I-95 Corridor Coalition’s Vision project was a departure from the Coalition’s historic role that focused primarily on shorter-term operational improvements in the corridor. Prior to the Vision project, most of the day-to-day issues confronting the Coalition members have tended to be on a sub-regional scale. More recently, however, it is increasingly recognized that there are a range of issues at a larger scale, the most obvious being the movement of people and freight within the north-south transportation corridor along the east coast, involving common concerns ranging from real time operations to improved modal integration and the long-term viability of the system in light of energy and climate concerns. The project, therefore, was designed to formulate and analyze an alternative vision of the future for the entire region – one which accommodates other key values and issues related to climate change, energy, a global economy, and quality of life, while reexamining the traditional modal mix and service options available for passenger and freight transportation in the corridor.

This study capitalized on a range of recent policy-driven transportation studies oriented to developing a long-range vision for transportation as illustrated. The AASHTO led vision summit, National Transportation Vision and Strategy for the 21st Century, held May 2007 at Cambridge, Maryland culminated just at the time of scoping for the I-95 Vision project, so it was an important initial building block for the project. The team solicited Vision efforts from states and subsequently held an intake session with the larger MPOs in the region and got their input on related vision efforts and scenario testing in their respective regions. Another key resource was the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (Commission) data and analytical tools which were used to support technical analyses for this study.

The implications of continuing “Business as Usual” – extrapolating current land use, travel patterns, mode use and vehicle miles of travel (VMT) trends out to 2040 are: 70 percent increase in VMT; 84 percent increase in urban Interstate delay; 34 percent increase in highway fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG); transit, intercity passenger, and freight rail struggle to hold market shares; near doubling of truck volumes; and constrained interstate commerce and economic productivity due to increasing highway and rail bottlenecks.

A set of principles guided development of an alternative vision. A key feature of the principles was the goal of accommodating mobility and economic development while doing so within a smaller carbon footprint and with much less energy use while also promoting land use and quality of life objectives.

The alternative vision includes:

  • Doubling vehicle fleet fuel efficiency and increasing use of alternative fuels
  • Reducing VMT growth to 1 percent per year (from 1.7 percent per year), resulting in 40 percent VMT growth (as opposed to the trend projection of 70 percent growth)
  • Aggressive assumptions regarding non-highway modes:
  • Tripling of transit ridership supported by transit oriented land use development
  • Eight fold increase in intercity rail passenger ridership
  • 20 percent increase in ton miles carried by freight rail
  • Aggressive short sea shipping and seamless intermodal connections
  • Aggressive operations, including both in-vehicle and roadside technology development, and roadway pricing to manage demand
  • Nearly 15,000 lanes of additional highway capacity to improve system performance, much of which would be managed capacity (e.g., HOT lanes or truck lanes)
  • A doubling of surface transportation investment in the region (from about $32 billion to $71 billion annually)
  • Transitioning to a new financing system, including replacement of the fuel tax with a VMT-based tax, and carbon fees to help stem the rise in GHG emissions

With the implementation of these bold strategies, economic growth will be supported by improved system performance. Major highway and rail bottlenecks will be removed, and delay on urban Interstates will be reduced by 46 percent. The region will also be on path to achieve GHG emissions reductions of 60 to 80 percent by 2050 (as compared to 2005 levels).

2040 Strategic Vision – Executive Summary and Full Report