Report: Deferred road repair poses financial liability
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report, “Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads,” examines road conditions and spending priorities nationwide and recommends changes at both the state and federal levels that the organization says can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.
Between 2004 and 2008, states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, which includes 99 percent of the total road system, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction, which covers only one percent of the road system, according to “Repair Priorities.” As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up. “Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said SGA Director of Land Use and Transportation Policy Roger Millar in a statement. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years — more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined.”
The report urges states to create or raise performance goals to keep roads in better condition, and to develop and fund state programs to meet those goals. It also suggests that the federal government should establish criteria and performance standards in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization bill for the overall condition of federal-aid highways.
Download the full version of “Repair Priorities.”