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MEETING THE CHALLENGE TO REAUTHORIZE TEA-21 63 dollars between 1997 and 2000 and by an even larger tant accomplishment. In fact, in Cape Canaveral, where percentage in pure capital spending on highways. I grew up as a child of the space program, we would What has this money bought? As they have become respond to a situation like this by saying, "Houston, we leaner, meaner, and more efficient, state departments of have a problem." transportation have directed their investments primarily toward maintenance of the existing system, possibly because system preservation projects frequently have WHAT FUNDING LEVEL WILL shorter lead times and are less controversial than system REAUTHORIZATION NEED TO ESTABLISH TO expansion projects.7 The increase in system preserva- MAINTAIN CONDITION AND PERFORMANCE? tion investment, Administrator Peters notes, has had a profound effect on the overall physical condition of the According to Administrator Peters, the forthcoming nation's highway and bridge infrastructure. The fed- Conditions and Performance Report will project that eralstate partnership during TEA-21 has generally covering the cost to maintain highways and bridges will provided the resources necessary to meet the cost to require average annual investment levels at $75.9 bil- maintain the system network. Similarly, the 2002 lion for the 20012020 period, a 17.5 percent increase Conditions and Performance Report, Administrator over the $64.6 billion of capital spending in 2000. Peters tells us, will document continued improvement in AASHTO's Bottom Line Report, on the basis of the the area of highway safety. She reports that highways same data but with variances mentioned earlier, pro- have become safer even as travel has sharply increased, jects the need for an annual capital investment of $92 with the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles trav- billion by all levels of government to cover the cost to eled (VMT) decreasing from 3.3 in 1980 to 1.5 in 2000. maintain current conditions and performance. Despite these gains in system maintenance and high- ARTBA believes that the $75.9 billion investment way safety, one of the three goals we have set forth figure mentioned by Administrator Peters is under- above for discussion clearly has not been met. stated for three reasons.9 First, it points out that the fig- Operational performance of infrastructure has steadily ure is stated in constant dollars for 2000 and deteriorated during the past decade. recommends that the report provide the estimate in While we have no statistical means of monitoring inflation-adjusted dollars. Second, the $75.9 billion fig- highway performance,8 AASHTO recently testified that ure, while potentially covering the cost to maintain increasing congestion and declining performance are existing conditions, will not cover the cost to maintain common. The Texas Transportation Institute's 2002 performance. Third, it explains that the report findings Urban Mobility Study was published earlier this year. are based on an assumption that traffic growth will The report examines congestion in 75 metropolitan decline from 3 percent annually over the past 20 years areas and concludes that in metropolitan areas of all to 2 percent annually over the next 20 years. Because sizes, congestion lasts for longer periods and affects less traffic means fewer highway and bridge repairs and more of the transportation network in 2000 than in less need for new capacity, understating travel growth is 1982. During that period, average annual delay per dangerous. ARTBA argues that every Conditions and peak road traveler climbed from 16 to 62 hours. Delay Performance Report has underestimated travel growth more than quadrupled in areas of less than 1 million and submits data suggesting that traditional travel people. growth would increase annual investment needs by Increasing congestion of this magnitude is not diffi- almost 50 percent to $120 billion per year. cult to understand. At the same time, as states focused AASHTO's Bottom Line Report does not assign a spending on the important job of condition mainte- federal share to its estimate of $92 billion required in nance, with little system expansion, between 1990 and annual capital investment over the next 20 years by all 2000 VMT increased from 2.1 trillion to 2.7 trillion. levels of government, nor does it factor in future price AASHTO predicts another 600 billion in VMT growth inflation. ARTBA points out in its recent testimony between 2000 and 2010. that, on the basis of the assumptions that the federal Thus, we should credit the TEA-21 era with impor- share of total highway capital investment during the tant, hard-fought gains--maintained condition and 20042009 period will continue to be about 47 percent improved safety. Yet the third leg of the performance (the average share of the past 20 years) and that annual goal--maintained performance--remains a more dis- inflation will be 2.4 percent (the estimate used in the President's FY 2003 budget), the Bottom Line Report 7AASHTO. The Changing State DOT, 1998. 8 9 Testimony of ARTBA before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Testimony of Joseph Perkins, AASHTO, before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Nuclear Safety, Senate Infrastructure, and Nuclear Safety, Senate Committee on Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sept. 30, 2002. Environment and Public Works, Sept. 30, 2002.