The U.S. Dept. of Transportation estimates it will take $106.9 billion to improve the performance of the nation's roads and bridges, a 65% increase over what was spent on that infrastructure in 2000. In a summary of its 2002 "Conditions and Performance" report, DOT says just maintaining current highway and bridge conditions will require $75.9 billion, up 18% from the 2000 capital spending level of $64.6 billion.

courtesy of Federal Highway

That 2000 total represents capital spending on highways and bridges by all levels of government. The federal share of that amount was $25.8 billion, or about 40% of the total. State and local governments contributed the remaining $38.8 billion. Thanks to funding increases in the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), federal capital spending on highways probably has risen since 2000.

Mary Peters, head of the Federal Highway Administration, released the highway summary on Sept. 26 as part of her testimony before a House subcommittee. The full report, which Peters says "is in final clearance" within the Bush administration, has been keenly awaited by state and industry officials. DOT's study, done about every two years, is the most authoritative look at transportation "needs" and will be a basic text for the debate over the bill to succeed TEA-21. That law is due to be reauthorized in 2003.

The DOT report also outlines transit spending requirements. In his testimony, Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Robert D. Jamison said improving transit conditions will take an average of $20.6 billion from all governmental levels, more than double the $9.1 billion in total public transportation capital spending in 2000. Maintaining transit conditions would require $14.8 billion, or a 63% increase from the 2000 level, according to DOT.

Jamison says estimated capital spending for transit is $15 billion for 2003, which he says would be enough to "begin to tackle the backlog of investment needs, and improve transit conditions and performance as well."

Peters also said DOT plans to have its proposed reauthorization bill ready early next year, timed to coincide with President Bush's fiscal 2004 budget proposal. She declined to comment on how any possible increase in highway funding should be financed.