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New USDOT report on highway and transit reveals need for US$926bn investment

The US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced that a new report on the state of the USA’s transportation infrastructure confirms that more investment is needed, not only to maintain the nation’s highway and transit systems, but to overcome a nearly trillion-dollar investment backlog.

The study, 2015 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, is a biennial report to Congress that provides information on the physical and operating characteristics of the highway, bridge and transit components of the USA’s surface transportation system. Commonly known as the ‘Conditions and Performance’ report, it identifies an US$836bn backlog of unmet capital investment needs for highways and bridges, or about 3.4% more than the estimate made in the previous report. Addressing the growing backlog, while still meeting other needs as they arise over the next two decades, will require US$142.5bn in combined transportation spending from state, federal and local governments.

In 2012, the most recent year in which the report’s data was available, federal, state and local governments combined spent US$105.2bn on this infrastructure; 35.5% less than what is needed to improve highways and bridges. The report also indicates that US$26.4bn is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2012, total spending to preserve and expand transit systems was US$17bn. If transit investment is sustained at those levels, overall transit system conditions are expected to decline over the next 20 years, and increasing the transit system preservation backlog from an estimated US$89.8bn to US$122bn.

“We have an infrastructure system that is fundamental to the nation’s economic health, and it needs greater attention and resources,” said Foxx. “Improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and transit helps create jobs, connects communities and ensures that our nation is equipped for the future.” Foxx added that the Congressionally-mandated report confirms the projections outlined in Beyond Traffic, a US Department of Transportation study issued in early 2015 that examined the challenges facing the country’s transportation infrastructure over the next 30 years, such as a rapidly growing population and increasing freight traffic.

Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau noted, “The case for more investment in our nation’s transportation system is clear. A strong transportation system will make businesses more productive and freight shippers safer and more efficient, while improving America’s quality of life.”

Acting Federal Transit Administrator Carolyn Flowers commented, “This report shows the impact of the lack of investment in infrastructure. The results of that neglect can be seen throughout our country as both reliability and safety suffer. We must increase investment in public transportation nationwide, because we must take immediate action to bring our transit infrastructure into a state of good repair, and provide the world-class service that Americans deserve.”

January 17, 2017

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