The North American Steel Interstate System saves the public money.
Both initial construction costs, and life cycle costs including maintenance, are lower for rail infrastructure that meets Steel Interstate performance standards than for highway expansion "improvements" and maintenance to handle the same volumes of increased car and truck travel. Furthermore the investment to double track and grade separate the National Steel Interstate System will produce excess capacity for future growth that would require additional rounds of highway expansion to match. Each time current or future truck shipments are shifted to rail, less new Interstate Highway capacity needs to be built to accommodate shipping growth. The avoided cost of this new construction to both state and federal budgets will be huge and will help pay for the Steel Interstate System.
Savings from reduced wear and tear on Interstate Highways.
Moving freight from highway to the railroad minimizes damage to highway and bridge infrastructure and consequent maintenance and ultimate rebuilding. These costs, largely a subsidy to the trucking industry, are huge and growing.
Public Private Partnerships with greater public benefit.
The National Steel Interstate allows the formation of public-private partnerships with railroads that would be vastly less economically disruptive than those contemplated for highway expansion projects where public highways would have to be tolled and in some cases leased to private firms for generations to repay debt with acceptable profit margins. Existing rail customers are already accustomed to paying for services, and new customers will be attracted to the new rail level-of-service that matches highway transit times, increases productivity, and offers more and more favorable rates as motor vehicle fuel prices rise.
Unlike highway public private partnerships, rail companies will contribute real assets--rights-of-way, facilities, rolling stock, and operations expertise, a better deal for the public than the typical highway partnerships where increased debt leverage is the primary private contribution, and some deals even contemplate restricting public investment in other transportation infrastructure for decades to eliminate competitive alternatives. All of the railroads' private assets would be brought to bear on satisfying the public need for increased and safer movement of people and freight in a cleaner, cheaper, faster, and more economically and environmentally supportive manner. While taxpayers and transportation users save money, and states and the U.S. employ more cost-effective multi-modal transportation systems, the railroads will make more money.
Produce better return on investment than more roads.
There are greater returns on investment (ROI) for North American Steel Interstate System expenditures than for incremental expansion of the largely built-out interstate highway system. All the easy highway projects have been done, and the newly proposed ones are increasingly expensive and environmentally disruptive, as well as destructive to homes, farms, businesses, and fractionalizing urban areas. The rail industry has been disinvesting for decades and is now chronically short of capacity. Transportation investment dollars thus can be leveraged on rail to produce a much larger increase in capacity and throughput. In an era of tight transportation funding, maximum ROI is an essential criterion for responsible use of taxpayers’ money. Just like Eisenhower's program eliminated stop lights, stop signs and single travel lanes from highway driving in the 1960s and 1970s, the Steel Interstate will make an analogous quantum leap to increase rail capacity and flow. Rail investments return a much bigger bang for the buck!