Billions and billions needed for roads and bridges

New FHWA report paints a rough picture for the U.S. infrastructure system

News AASHTO Journal
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According to the Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: 2004—referred to as the Conditions and Performance report—federal, state and local capital expenditures for highways and bridges totaled $68.2 billion in 2002. However, $73.8 billion is needed to maintain current conditions. The greatest investment gap, the FHWA found, was in the area of highway pavement preservation. For bridges, FHWA said needed investments exceed cost to maintain by 21%, making inroads into a backlog of bridge needs.

The second option the FHWA examined was the “cost to improve” scenario. The report estimated that some $118.9 billion in investment was needed by all levels of government.

As for transit, the report stated that transit capital expenditures from federal, state and local governments totaled $12.3 billion in 2002. The annual capital investment necessary to maintain conditions and performance for the 20-year period from 2003-2022 is estimated to be $15.6 billion. That represents a gap of 27% above actual spending in 2002. The report estimated the annual capital investment required to improve conditions and performance is $24 billion, 95% above actual 2002 capital spending.

Addressing the conditions of the nation’s interstate system, the report stated, “About 26.3% of all urban interstate bridges were deficient in 2002 and 15.8% of all rural interstate bridges were deficient.” In 2002, 97.8% of rural interstate pavements met the standard for “acceptable” ride quality, compared to 95.3% for interstates in small urban areas and 97.1% for interstates in urbanized areas.

To maintain the current level of user costs on urban interstates, an average annual investment level of $10.96 billion would be required. For all interstates, an average annual investment in bridge preservation of $2.13 billion would be required.

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