The positive effects of TEA-21

News AASHTO Journal March 31, 2005
Printer-friendly version





A report released by a North Carolina college professor concludes that the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-

A report released by a North Carolina college professor concludes that the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) prompted roadwork that substantially improved five out of six categories of pavement nationwide--with only urban interstate highways losing ground.


The report, "TEA-21's Impact - Performance of State Highway Systems, 1984-2003" also included comparative data that reached back beyond the duration of the bill in its title, which governed federal surface transportation spending from 1998-2003. It was the 14th annual look at the conditions and performance of the U.S. road system by Prof. David Hartgen.


During the years of TEA-21, Hartgen said, "the state-administered U.S. highway system improved sharply on key indicators of performance . . . the most spectacular gains in performance were in rural areas."


The five categories showing improvement were rural interstates, rural primary roads, bridges, fatality rate per 100 million miles driven and widening of narrow lanes.


Hartgen also suggested that progress has slowed in recent years. Although he did not reference it in his report, many states had to delay roadwork as the most severe recession in nearly half a century caused transportation funds to be moved to cover other deficits within state budgets to keep overall state budgets out of the red. Some states also have postponed certain projects pending the adoption of a successor to TEA-21, seeking adequate long-term revenue streams to ensure that certain projects can be completed.


During the TEA-21 years, Hartgen noted, spending for major road widening and resurfacing rose by 36%, maintenance rose by 24% and overall road-related spending was up 39%.


Overlay Init