Report emphasizes transportation funding is inadequate
The U.S. Congress requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide a semi-annual comprehensive report on the condition, use and funding needs of the nation’s surface transportation program.
The most recent report, the 2008 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance, found current levels of investment by all levels of government in maintaining the physical condition of urban roads are inadequate.
The U.S. DOT report estimated the current level of investment in preserving urban roads and highways and calculated what level of annual investment would be required to either maintain physical conditions at their current level or to improve physical conditions. The report estimated current and needed spending in 2006 dollars, which has been converted to 2010 dollars by TRIP (The Road Information Project).
The report found that all levels of governments are spending $14 billion annually to preserve the physical condition of urban arterial and collector roads and highways (excluding bridges), which includes all Interstates, freeways and major roads.
However, the U.S. DOT estimates that the annual investment needed to maintain urban arterial and collector roads and highways (excluding bridge repairs) in their current condition is $26.6 billion, and the needed investment in urban arterial and collector roads and highways (excluding bridges) to significantly improve conditions and make all economically justifiable improvements is $39 billion annually.
At the current level of investment in urban roads, overall pavement conditions can be expected to get worse, unless funding is increased, based on the findings of the 2008 U.S. DOT report to Congress. Keeping urban roadways in their current condition would require a 90 percent increase in funding, nearly doubling the current level.
Making significant progress in improving the physical condition of urban roadways would require a 171 percent increase in funding, according to findings of the 2008 U.S. DOT report. Through 2025, the U.S. faces a $189 billion shortfall in the cost to maintain urban roadways in their current condition and a $375 billion shortfall in the cost to make significant improvements to urban roadways.
The lack of a long-term federal surface transportation program, which would provide a predictable level of federal funding, is impeding the ability of states to plan and implement large-scale roadway rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.
Congress is currently deliberating over a long-range federal surface transportation program. The current program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), was originally scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009. After five short-term extensions, the legislation now expires on Dec. 31, 2010.