U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that a new report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, 2010 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, points to a sizeable gap between current spending and projected levels of investment needed to maintain the nation’s highway and transit systems.
“This report shows how important it is to get started now rebuilding America’s roads, bridges and transit systems.” stated Secretary LaHood.
The Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance report projects that $101 billion, plus increases for inflation, would be needed annually over the next 20 years from all levels of government – local, state and federal – to keep the highway system in its current state. It also identifies significant opportunities for investments to improve the current state of highways and bridges that could total up to $170 billion a year. The report shows that in 2008, all levels of government spent a combined total of $91.1 billion on highway capital improvements, a 48.4 percent increase over 2000.
The report also projects that between $20.8 billion and $24.5 billion will be needed annually over the next 20 years to attain a state of good repair for the nation’s transit systems and to accommodate expected transit ridership growth. In contrast, all levels of government combined spent only $16.1 billion on transit capital improvements in 2008. The Obama Administration budget request includes $108 billion over the six years for transit options, a 105 percent increase over the previous authorization levels.
The report further documents the need for a long term source of funding for maintenance and improvement of transportation infrastructure. The last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired in 2009 but has been temporarily extended by congress nine times since then. The current extension provides funding until June 30th, 2012. In the meantime, congress continues to confer on competing House and Senate transportation bills in an effort to produce a new long term transportation reauthorization bill.