Taking a long-overdue look at the Interstate system's statistics, I note that it has roughly 43,000 miles of roadway.
If we look at British estimates for cost and assume
$1.5 million/lane/mile $2.4 million/lane/mile for construction of rails down freeway medians, the entire Interstate system could get another 2 lanes of rails for $129 $206 billion. If overhead wires for electric power cost another $500 $800 thousand/lane-mile, the total rises to $172 $275 billion. This could potentially replace all truck diesel
used on expressways.
As of 2004, the transport sector was using 42.5 billion gallons/year (2.774 million bbl/day) of diesel. If 60% of this was burned on freeways, we'd have been able to save 1.66 million bbl/day; if the electrification of freeways allowed e.g. battery- or flywheel-powered operation for some local legs also, the total could go over 2 million barrels/day.
The total oil production of Iraq is now down to 1.7 million barrels/day. At $65/bbl, it's worth $110 million/day ($40.3 billion/yr).
If we'd spent the cost of the Iraq war on getting rid of our own petroleum demand, we'd have been able to pay for it at least once by now
, maybe twice. Ignoring the cost of maintenance and electricity, the savings would have paid back the cost in about 7 years at current oil prices. The return would be on-going, and boosted by reduced noise, smog and particulates. All we'd have had to do to Saddam is blow up his oil infrastructure so he had no money to buy weapons.
When I think about what we could have done versus what we did, it disgusts me.
UPDATE: Figures corrected for kilometers vs. miles (original erroneous figures in
strikeout where this displayed unambiguously). At least I wasn't trying to get this post to Mars.
Visits since 2006/05/11: