The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) predicts that total trucking freight revenue will approach 88% in the U.S. by 2016. ATA’s U.S. Freight Transportation to 2016 report, which is produced by economic forecasting firm Global Insight, Inc., said that trucking will increase total annual tonnage to 13 billion tons, which would give it a 69.1% share of the total tonnage market by 2016.

Overall rail tonnage is estimated to reach 2.56 billion tons in 2016, up from 2.06 billion tons in 2004, giving it 13.6% of the total tonnage market. ATA also predicts growth in rail intermodal and air transport, but neither mode will have more than 2% of the total tonnage share by 2016.

The trade group expects the U.S. to continue its trend toward being a finished goods manufacturer, and thus will import more semi-finished products.

Rail intermodal will become more important to trucking, which will benefit local and short-haul carriers, said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. Rail intermodal revenue is expected to grow to $19 billion by 2016 from last year’s $8.6 billion.

Air freight and express traffic is forecasted to rise to 31.6 million tons in 2016, up from 18.1 million tons in 2004.

The forecasts are based on the projection that economic growth will average between 3 and 3.5% per year until 2016.