A USDOT report on the state of America's transportation infrastructure, 2015 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, released late last year, contends that more investment is needed not only to maintain the nation's highway and transit systems but to overcome a nearly trillion-dollar investment backlog.
This happens to be very close to the dollar amount recently proposed by Senate Democrats.
Conditions and Performance is a biennial report to Congress on the physical and operating characteristics of highway, bridge and transit components of the US surface transportation system.
The new report identifies an $836 billion backlog of unmet capital investment needs for highways and bridges, about 3.4 percent more than the estimate made in the previous report. Addressing the growing backlog while still meeting other needs as they arise over the next two decades will require $142.5 billion in combined transportation spending from state, federal and local governments.
In 2012, the most recent year in which the report's data were available, federal, state and local governments combined spent $105.2 billion on this infrastructure – 35.5 percent less than what was needed to improve highways and bridges.
The report also indicates that $26.4 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2012, total spending to preserve and expand transit systems was $17 billion. If transit investment is sustained at those levels, overall transit system conditions are expected to decline over the next 20 years, and increasing the transit system preservation backlog from an estimated $89.8 billion to $122 billion.
Between 2002 and 2012, the report found that:
■ Road quality improved, with the share of travel taking place on smooth pavement increasing from 43.8 percent to 44.9 percent.
■ Delays in traffic cost the average commuter more time than ever, with an estimated 41 hours of delay per year in 2012, up from 39 hours in 2002.
■ Transit route miles increased by 32 percent, with light rail growing faster than any other transit mode.