A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation confirms what most people already suspect, which is that more investment is needed not only to maintain the nation’s highway and transit systems, but to overcome a nearly trillion-dollar investment backlog.

 

“We have an infrastructure system that is fundamental to the nation’s economic health, and it needs greater attention and resources,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Improving our nation’s roads, bridges and transit helps create jobs, connects communities and ensures that our nation is equipped for the future.”

 

The report, “2015 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance,” is a biennial report to Congress that provides information on the physical and operating characteristics of the highway, bridge and transit components of the nation’s surface transportation system. Secretary Foxx added that the Congressionally mandated report confirms the projections outlined in “Beyond Traffic,” a U.S. Department of Transportation study issued in early 2015, which examined the challenges facing America’s transportation infrastructure over the next 30 years, such as a rapidly growing population and increasing freight traffic.

 

The Conditions and Performance report identifies an $836 billion backlog of unmet capital investment needs for highways and bridges, or about 3.4 percent more than the estimate made in the previous report. Addressing the growing backlog—while still meeting other needs as they arise over the next two decades—will require $142.5 billion in combined transportation spending from state, federal and local governments. In 2012, the most recent year in which the report’s data were available, federal, state and local governments combined spent $105.2 billion on this infrastructure—35.5 percent less than what’s needed to improve highways and bridges.

 

“The case for more investment in our nation’s transportation system is clear,” says Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “A strong transportation system will make businesses more productive and freight shippers safer and more efficient while improving America’s quality of life.”

 

Interestingly, the report found that between 2002 and 2012:

·                     The percentage of structurally deficient bridges decreased from 14.2 percent to 11 percent

·                     Road quality improved, with the share of travel taking place on smooth pavement increasing from 43.8 percent to 44.9 percent

·                     Delays in traffic cost the average commuter more time than ever, with an estimated 41 hours of delay per year in 2012, up from 39 hours in 2002, and

·                     Transit route miles increased by 32 percent, with light rail growing faster than any other transit mode.

 

On the one hand, President Trump’s administration committed to make infrastructure investment a priority, however, recent reports about the new administration’s initial agenda indicate there won’t be an infrastructure bill within the first 100 days. On the other hand, many states are already putting infrastructure issues on the table.

 

The American Society of Civil Engineers reports that in California, the first bills introduced in each chamber for the 2017 regular session address methods to raise more than $6 billion for state and local roads, trade corridors and public transit. In Indiana, lawmakers are proposing to invest in the state’s roads and bridges, which need more than $1 billion in additional funds, through new gasoline and vehicle taxes. In Minnesota, Governor Dayton is proposing a $1.5 billion bonding package for state public works projects that will allocate $70 million for local road and bridge projects. Finally, in Montana, Governor Bullock is calling for a $200 million investment of cash and bonds during the 2017 legislature to fund infrastructure needs, the society reports.

 

What are your thoughts on nation’s highway and transit systems? What impact do traffic delays and other problems have on your organization’s supply chain?