Preserving the Interstate System

T-RCED-90-68: Published: Apr 24, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1990.

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GAO discussed federal and state efforts to preserve the interstate highway system. GAO noted that: (1) in 1988, the Department of Transportation (DOT) classified the condition of 57 percent of interstate pavement as good, 31 percent as fair, and 12 percent as poor; (2) deteriorated pavement resulted in such societal costs as traffic delays, increased fuel costs, decreased productivity, and the potential for increased accidents, injuries, and vehicle damage; (3) although states were responsible for maintaining interstate pavement, some did not adequately fund or perform maintenance; (4) the Federal Highway Administration did not always ensure that states corrected identified maintenance deficiencies, even though some were safety-related; (5) states increasingly used Interstate Resurfacing, Restoration, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction (4R) Program funds for reconstruction and lane widening to respond to worsening congestion; and (6) DOT estimated that states would use about 50 percent of the $4.7 billion to $6.1 billion needed annually in federal and state funds for interstate widening.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As of late 1991, Congress was considering reauthorization of the federal-aid highway enabling legislation. Whether the recommended action would be included in the final bill and whether the reauthorization legislation would be enacted during the first session of the 102nd Congress was unclear at that time. This recommendation is superseded by the recommendation in GAO/RCED-91-147.

    Matter: As the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation deliberates the reauthorization of highway programs, it may wish to consider establishing national goals for the maximum acceptable levels of poor and fair pavement.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As of late 1991, Congress was considering reauthorization of the federal-aid highway enabling legislation. Whether the recommended action would be included in the final bill and whether the reauthorization legislation would be enacted during the first session of the 102nd Congress was unclear at that time. This recommendation is superseded by the recommendation in GAO/RCED-91-147.

    Matter: As the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation deliberates the reauthorization of highway programs, it may wish to consider redefining the range of activities eligible for Interstate 4R funding to encourage states to give more attention to maintenance activities directed at preserving the interstate pavement or resolving safety-related deficiencies.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As of late 1991, Congress was considering reauthorization of the federal-aid highway enabling legislation. Whether the recommended action would be included in the final bill and whether the reauthorization legislation would be enacted during the first session of the 102nd Congress was unclear at that time. This recommendation is superseded by the recommendation in GAO/RCED-91-147.

    Matter: As the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation deliberates the reauthorization of highway programs, it may wish to consider emphasizing interstate priorities through maintaining the 90-percent federal cost share on those projects that have numerous beneficiaries, and decreasing the cost share on those projects that have a limited number of beneficiaries.

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As of late 1991, Congress was considering reauthorization of the federal-aid highway enabling legislation. Whether the recommended action would be included in the final bill and whether the reauthorization legislation would be enacted during the first session of the 102nd Congress was unclear at that time. This recommendation is superseded by the recommendation in GAO/RCED-91-147.

    Matter: As the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation deliberates the reauthorization of highway programs, it may wish to consider requiring an assessment of the extent to which alternative transportation strategies are expected to alleviate the expected shortfall in interstate lane widening and associated costs.

 

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