Deteriorating Highways and Lagging Revenues:

A Need To Reassess the Federal Highway Program

CED-81-42: Published: Mar 5, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 1981.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

A review was conducted of recent trends in state and federal highway financing, the effects of these trends on state highway programs, and the actions taken or proposed to obtain additional financing.

The condition of U.S. highways has been deteriorated. The interstate system has seen the most serious decline with its percentage of miles in poor condition doubling from 1975 to 1978. Billions of dollars will be needed to preserve these roads and, unless timely action is taken, even more money will be needed for reconstruction. Additional billions will be required to complete the interstate system. Increased costs and lagging state and federal revenues have compounded the problem. The states have taken various actions to increase highway revenues, but there has been little action to increase federal highway taxes.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should reassess the Federal-Aid Highway Program, giving consideration to priority needs and funding levels. Specifically, Congress should address: (1) giving priority to preserving existing highways with emphasis on the interstate system; (2) determining whether the current preservation policy needs to be modified to ensure that necessary resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation work on Federal-aid highways is carried out; (3) eliminating preservation funds from sanctions; (4) assessing the goal of interstate completion as currently defined, possibly giving priority to funding essential gaps; (5) analyzing State efforts and capabilities to increase highway revenues and to preserve highways; (6) using highway revenues to fund the Federal-Aid Highway Program; and (7) revising the Federal motor fuel tax and other highway revenue sources to be more responsive to highway needs and the inflationary trends in highway costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should submit a legislative proposal to exempt preservation-type projects from the sanctions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should modify the basis for imposing maintenance sanctions to include the failure to perform routine preventive maintenance on a continual and timely basis and not solely when roads become unsafe or unserviceable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 2, 2016

Aug 8, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 24, 2016

Jun 21, 2016

May 26, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here