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Groups Advocate More Highway Funding for Repairs, Not New Roads

March 13, 2014

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As Congress and the Obama administration wrestle over how to fund work on the nation’s roadways for the next several years, two groups have teamed up, issuing a report saying more focus needs to be put on road repairs rather than building new roads.

The budget watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, along with the lobby group, Smart Growth America, says between 2009 and 2011, the latest year with available data, states spent $20.4 billion annually to build new roadways and add lanes to existing roads. This grew America’s state-owned road network  by 8,822 lane-miles, accounting for less than 1% of the total lane miles in 2011.

They claim, however, during that same time, states spent just $16.5 billion annually repairing and preserving the other 99% of the roadway system, even while roads across the country were deteriorating, with just 37% rated in good condition in 2011, down from 41% in 2008.

“If states spent $20.4 billion annually on repair rather than expansion, they could have cut the number of roads in poor condition in half by 2011 and been on target to eliminate the backlog of roads in poor condition by 2014,” say the two groups.

They note highway spending decisions come with serious implications for DOT finances and taxpayers. In 2008, states would have needed to spend more than $43 billion every year for 20 years to bring roads in poor condition into good repair while also maintaining their existing systems. By 2011, that figure increased to $45.2 billion per year, nearly three times the amount states currently spend on repair.

The groups say they hope the report will help lawmakers and state transportation departments focus on repair investments on the most heavily used roads and they will use cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments, among other strategies, when it comes to road funding.

The current federal highway funding authorization expires at the end of September but there is an even earlier concern the Federal Highway Trust fund, which pays for such projects, will become insolvent sooner. This is forcing both the administration and lawmakers to address both issues, while agreement on a single plan is still miles away from happening.

Comments

  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ March 14, 2014 @ 05:33AM ]

    More highway funding is one thing, and we can all agree that the roads are in dire need of repair. It is the waste that passes for repairs. In 1943, we completed over 1500 miles of the Alaska Canada highway, after starting only 18 months earlier. Today, construction crews can't get a single exit to a freeway done in that time frame. The cost overruns, delays, and excuses really are the problem. If there weren't so much politics and dipping into the till going on, there would be plenty of money and the roads would be in a lot better shape.

    But, when in doubt, just throw more money at the black hole of government.

  2. 2. Peter D. Ohmart [ March 14, 2014 @ 05:58AM ]

    There are a few points of consideration:
    Where is all the national Highway Use Taxes being used?
    Who is spending it because it is not being spent on the roads?
    Where is the money being spent, because it is not being spent on the roads?

    I agree that we need to spend the money on the roads we presently have, even if that means assisting the states in the financing of the projects. There should be a watchdog which oversees the spending and reports to Congress any infractions or faces jail time, as money is so badly spent now (GM & not paying to fix the ignition switches - how they cold have saved money and lives if they had fixed it at the factory level).

    It is time we spend money in our own country bringing back some pride in the land, our selves and the government when people from around the world visit.

    Let us show the world how great this country really is!!!

 

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