Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

Decades of underinvestment in regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing these roads is rising faster than many states can address them. These liabilities are outlined in a new report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, released today, which examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means 57 percent of these funds was spent on only 1 percent of the nation’s roads, while only 43 percent was dedicated to preserving the 99 percent of the system that already existed. As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Federal taxpayers have an enormous stake in seeing that our roads are kept in good condition,” said Erich W. Zimmermann of Taxpayers for Common Sense at a briefing earlier today. “Billions of precious tax dollars were spent to build our highway system, and neglecting repair squanders that investment. Keeping our roads in good condition reduces taxpayers’ future liabilities.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years – more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined. As this figure illustrates, state have drifted too far from regular preservation and repair and in so doing have created a deficit that is going to take decades to reverse.”

The high cost of poor conditions
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly. Investing too little on road repair increases these future liabilities, and with every dollar spent on new construction many states add to a system they are already failing to keep in good condition.

State and federal leaders can do more to see that highway funds are spent in ways that benefits driver and taxpayers. More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how states invest their transportation dollars and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report.

Click here to read the full report, state-specific data and view the interactive map.

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    2 Responses to Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

    1. Edward John says:

      Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that funds were spent on road repairs instead of new construction. Personally I think in the long run this will cost the taxpayer more money. Money for maintenance construction projects, it seemed, was readily available where money for new purposes was not. This may seem foolish unless you’re an unemployed construction worker just happy being able to make ends meet. It’s really sad that choices have to be made between two opposing alternatives during this economic crisis. As a construction worker in Connecticut, jobs seem few and far between recently, though currently I am working. I found a lead to my current job with Dodge Projects, which I had heard about on another blog site.I usually ignore advice, but this time I was desperate so I took a chance and it really paid off. They actually had some really useful information and their job listings, are not only detailed, but also sorted by state, project and type, so I could find the ones for my niche easily. Finding the rightConnecticut Transportation Construction Projects that suits me is invaluable. They are really worth checking out.

    2. doug devan says:

      I thought the QE 1 money that transportation got was suppose to be used to fix the transportation infrastructure…..what happened to that… didn’t

      quit spending the money….tighten your belts….all of you like the citizenry has to do.

      Thanks, doug devan

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