An updated U.S. DOT assessment of highway and mass transit capital investment needs says an average $53.6 billion per year of federal investment is necessary just to maintain year 2000 system performance, safety levels and physical conditions. The agency concluded that an annual federal investment of $71.9 billion is necessary to make all "economically justified" improvements to the nation's surface transportation system.
The new assessment was released by the Republican staff of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The committee asked U.S. DOT to revisit the investment requirements it reported late last year in its 2002 "Conditions & Performance" report to the Congress, applying some real world assumptions to its estimates. These included: adjusting the reported investment requirement, stated in year 2000 dollars, for anticipated inflation, using forecasts found in the President's FY 2004 budget request; adding the estimated federal cost of administering the highway and transit programs annually through FY 2010, which was not factored in the report; and desegregating the federal share of total investment from that anticipated for state and local governments, assuming the average share ratio that has occurred over the past decade.
The adjusted figures justify the $375 billion, six-year TEA-21 reauthorization proposal that has been outlined by the committee's bipartisan leadership. "The U.S. DOT has quantified a serious--and growing--investment shortfall in the nation's vital surface transportation network," the staff document concludes.