Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The State of America's Infrastructure

The good news is America's roads are getting better; the bad news is that we aren't spending enough on transportation to keep them that way.  That's what the 400-page U.S. DOT biennial report released last week said in a nutshell.

The "2013 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance" report states that American roads in good condition rose from 46.4 percent in 2008 to 50.6 percent in 2010.  That's the highest increase since the DOT began using that metric.

The report largely attributes this to the increased spending on infrastructure improvement through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Kansas received $378 million in Recovery funds that allowed for additional improvements all across the state. Currently, more than 83 percent of state highways and 87 percent of bridges in Kansas are in good condition, which is well above the national average.

While it's nice to see America's infrastructure improving, the report says it's not sustainable at current funding levels.

The report estimates that all levels of government--federal, state, and local--would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to improve the condition of roads and bridges. In 2010, all levels spent a combined $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, and that includes the $11.9 billion boost from the Recovery Act.

"We have an infrastructure deficit in this country," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

There is also a substantial gap when it comes to transit funding.  The report estimates an additional $8 billion is needed annually to properly maintain and improve transit buses and rail systems.

In an effort to help address this gap, President Obama recently announced a plan to devote $302 billion over four years to improve our nation’s surface transportation.  The current transportation law is scheduled to expire in September.

To read the full DOT report about the status of America's infrastructure, click here.

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