TRIP releases conditions and funding update on U.S. surface transportation system

April 24, 2020

Reports says the need for improvements far outpaces the amount of state and federal funding available

TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington D.C., this month released an update on the state of America's surface transportation system and the federal funding required to maintain it.

TRIP says the nation's roads and highways allow motorists to travel 3.2 trillion miles annually and move a significant portion of the $16.8 trillion worth of commodities shipped within the country each year. However, the organization says, conditions on the system are deteriorating, as the need for transportation improvements far outpaces the amount of state and federal funding available.

According to the research nonprofit's fact sheet released in April, a total of 43% of major roads in the U.S. are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs the nation’s motorists $130 billion a year—$603 per motorist—in the form of additional repairs, accelerated vehicle depreciation, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

The fact sheet says a total of 7% of U.S. bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. A total of 43% of the nation’s bridges are at least 50 years old, an age when many bridges require significant rehabilitation or replacement.

According to the Federal Highway Administration's Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit, 23rd Edition—submitted to Congress in 2019—the U.S. faced a $786 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements to its roads, highways, and bridges. The nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways, and bridges should be increased by 29% to $136 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways, and bridges, relieve traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety, according to the report.

The TRIP fact sheet also urges roadway safety improvements, noting that from 2014 through 2018, 178,921 people died on the nation’s highways—an average of 35,784 annual fatalities. TRIP cited a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report which found that every $100 million spent on needed roadway safety improvements would reduce the number of traffic fatalities by 44 and serious traffic injuries by 760 over a 20-year period.