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U.S. DOT report points to need for more infrastructure investment

Posted on March 3, 2014

A new U.S Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) report on the state of America's transportation infrastructure, “2013 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance,” confirms more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation's highway and transit systems.

“We have an infrastructure deficit in this country, and we need to create more jobs — improving our roads, bridges and transit systems will provide help on both fronts,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “As the President said in his State of the Union address last month, first-class infrastructure creates first-class jobs. This report shows the difference we made thanks to the Administration’s unprecedented investment under the Recovery Act, but it’s also clear that much more remains to be done.”

The U.S DOT's report, based on 2010 data, estimates all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to both maintain and improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, federal, state and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars.

The report also indicates that as much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2010, total spending to maintain and expand transit systems was $16.5 billion — a spending level also boosted temporarily by ARRA dollars.

According to the report, travel on pavements with good ride quality rose from 46.4% in 2008 to 50.6% in 2010. A major factor in this increase was the one-time funding provided under ARRA, a large share of which was directed toward pavement resurfacing. This 4.2% increase represents the highest two-year jump ever since the metric was first used in 1995. While the report shows overall pavement and bridge conditions have improved in many areas, the improvements have not been uniform across the system.

The report also finds that the nation’s state of good repair and preventive maintenance backlog for transit is at an all-time high of $86 billion and is growing by an estimated $2.5 billion each year. An additional $8.2 billion over current spending levels from all levels of government is needed annually to spend down the current backlog over the next 20 years. While some transit systems are still operating railcars more than 30 years old, the report finds that over three-quarters of the need for repairs affects other facets of our transit systems, such as rail stations, trestles and power substations.

Meanwhile, state and local governments are shouldering more than half the cost of annual investments to preserve and grow the nation’s transit systems.

The biennial report to Congress provides information on the physical and operating characteristics of the highway, bridge and transit components of the nation's surface transportation system. To view the full report, click here.

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