A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) report on the state of America's transportation infrastructure, 2013 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, concludes that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation's highway and transit systems.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has highlighted the need for transportation investment in a series of speeches that take aim at America’s infrastructure deficit and identify ways to use innovation and improved planning to stretch transportation dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“We have an infrastructure deficit in this country and we need to create more jobs; improving our roads, bridges and transit systems will provide help on both fronts,” Secretary Foxx said. “As the president said in his State of the Union address last month, first-class infrastructure creates first-class jobs. This report shows the difference we made thanks to the administration’s unprecedented investment under the Recovery Act, but it’s also clear that much more remains to be done.”
USDOT’s Conditions and Performance report indicates that as much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of rail and bus systems. In 2010, total spending to maintain and expand transit systems was $16.5 billion, a spending level boosted temporarily by Recovery Act dollars.
The report found that the nation’s state of good repair and preventive maintenance backlog for transit is at an all-time high of $86 billion and that it is growing by an estimated $2.5 billion each year. An additional $8.2 billion over current spending levels from all levels of government is needed annually to spend down the current backlog over the next 20 years. While some transit systems are still operating rail cars that are more than 30 years old, the report finds that more than three-quarters of the need for repairs affects other facets of transit systems, such as rail stations, trestles and power substations.
Meanwhile, state and local governments are shouldering more than half the cost of annual investments to preserve and grow the nation’s transit systems.
“The United States cannot grow and compete in the 21st century without a modern public transportation infrastructure that connects citizens, their communities and their employers with opportunities to succeed and prosper,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “Making a down payment on this substantial backlog is critical to not falling farther behind in our commitment to modernize the transportation infrastructure that tens of millions of riders depend on every day.”