Despite a multitrillion dollar backlog of roadway and bridge repairs throughout the
country, almost a third of the money — more than $6.6 billion — was committed to new
capacity roads and bridges rather than to repair and other preservation projects.
The nation is growing, and many areas need substantial improvements in connectivity. Many
places will need additional roadway capacity. However, given the enormous roadway and
bridge repair backlog, its costs in terms of vehicle repairs, its threat to human safety, and the
job‐creation advantages of roadway preservation projects, this magnitude of new
construction cannot said to be fulfilling the goals of the ARRA.
2. States generally failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity offered by the flexibility
in the STP to make progress on the huge public transportation backlog, and move
towards a more balanced transportation system.
Given the growing demand, the need for upgrading identified in the ASCE report, and the many
benefits of public transportation, the $189 million in STP funding allocated by the states so
far is grossly inadequate. Even when the dedicated, non‐STP funding for public transportation
is taken into consideration, commitments to transportation choice fall far short of the need.
The $600 million in STP funding commitments to non‐motorized transportation is better, but
also fails to meaningfully respond to the public’s need for more affordable and healthy
transportation options. This level of spending for bicycling and walking will have minimal
impact on the nation’s stock of bicycle and pedestrian routes, or on individual mobility.
3. We could get much more from our transportation spending, but the federal program
isn’t set up to ensure that we get the most from the money spent. With scarce resources,
large backlogs and increasing challenges, it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to waste.
The data make clear that with different funding choices, greater progress could have been
made combating climate change, increasing energy security, increasing mobility for elderly
and low income populations, and reducing the repair backlog. More jobs could have been
created, more quickly. However, the federal transportation program does not clearly
articulate what goals should be achieved with each tax dollar spent, nor how to compare
different spending options against those goals, nor how to ensure progress towards meeting
them. The result is wasted opportunity and money.