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62 T R A N S P O RTAT I O N F I N A N C E tionary cap could afford. This approach left no link to not only existing conditions but system performance the revenues coming into the Highway Trust Fund and as well.4 no link to what the nation needed. As a result, into the I submit the ARTBA goals for the consideration of early 1990s, road and bridge conditions in the United the conference participants. Let us now examine the States deteriorated, and traffic congestion grew worse. extent to which we are currently meeting these goals. Pete Ruane, President of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), reminded Congress that TEA-21 fundamentally HAS TEA-21 MET THE GOALS OF improved on this process by ensuring that all Highway MAINTAINING SYSTEM CONDITION AND Trust Fund revenues would be spent on transportation PERFORMANCE AND IMPROVING SAFETY? investment.3 In effect, highway and mass transit invest- ment levels under TEA-21 became revenue driven. During the last week of September 2002, the public got Thus, as Highway Trust Fund revenues grew during the its first peek at two long-awaited assessments of the late 1990s, federal transportation investment experi- condition and performance of the U.S. transportation enced strong growth. What TEA-21 did not achieve is system: the U.S. Department of Transportation's the establishment of a direct correlation between need (USDOT's) biennial Conditions and Performance and investment levels. Report and AASHTO's Bottom Line Report. Mary That could well be the key challenge that TEA-21 Peters, Administrator of the Federal Highway reauthorization presents to Congress. What goal should Administration (FHWA), offered a summary of the drive the establishment of funding levels for surface USDOT report's conclusions on September 30, 2002, in transportation? testimony before the Senate Environment and Public In March 2001 ARTBA published A Blueprint for Works Committee.5 AASHTO issued its Bottom Line 2003 Reauthorization of the Federal-Aid Highway and Report on September 26, 2002. The two reports use vir- Mass Transit Programs. After over a year of effort involv- tually the same data and modeling techniques. The dif- ing numerous committees, including one I cochaired, ferences in their conclusions reflect only variations in ARTBA submitted for consideration the following goals base years, time spans, and modeling assumptions.6 for the 20042009 authorization program: At the heart of the Conditions and Performance Report are three measures for highways and bridges: 1. Cutting the number of deaths and injuries on the cost to maintain in current condition; the cost to America's highways through targeted capital investments; maintain at current performance levels; and the cost to 2. Ensuring that traffic congestion for the American improve to the point where investment would no longer public and business community does not get materially be cost-effective, assuming the availability of funds. worse; and In her testimony, Administrator Peters reported that 3. Ensuring that the structural condition of federal- TEA-21 has achieved some notable successes. Between aid highways, bridges, and transit systems does not get FY 1998 and FY 2002, annual federal highway spend- materially worse. ing increased by a whopping 48 percent. With this influx of new federal dollars, state and local govern- These goals do not go so far as to seek improvement ments resisted the temptation to redirect their discre- in the performance of the transportation network. They tionary resources elsewhere and actually increased their seek improved safety and maintenance of the existing transportation spending as well. In fact, the state share condition and performance. of highway capital investment from 1997 through 2000 Soon after ARTBA threw down this gauntlet in increased to more than 60 percent of the total for the August 2001, the American Association of State first time since 1959 and remained above that level Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) through 2002. Thus, under TEA-21 combined invest- Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) ment in highway infrastructure by all levels of govern- ARTBA Joint Committee, of which I was a member, ment increased sharply--by 14 percent in constant held its annual meeting. An important cooperative effort since the 1920s, the committee offered its sup- 4 Recommendations of the AASHTOAGCARTBA Joint Com- port for an increase in annual federal investment in mittee (2001). highway and transit programs sufficient to maintain 5 Statement of Mary Peters, Federal Highway Administrator, before Subcommittee on Transportation Infrastructure and Nuclear Safety, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sept. 30, 2002. 3 Two Cents Makes Sense. Testimony of ARTBA before the 6 General Accounting Office. U.S. Infrastructure: Federal Agencies' Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, House Committee on Approaches to Developing Investment Estimates Vary. Washington, Transportation and Infrastructure, July 16, 2002. D.C., July 2001.