Surface Transportation:

Budget Issues and Optimizing Investment Returns

T-RCED-93-29: Published: Apr 22, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1993.

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GAO discussed key issues affecting the implementation of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the results of some of the ongoing work in the area of surface transportation infrastructure. GAO noted that: (1) Highway Trust Fund revenues are expected to fall $10.1 billion short of the ISTEA funding commitment to the states; (2) the highway account's financial problems could be compounded by demonstration projects that often cost more than expected; (3) demonstration projects can yield a low payoff for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they frequently are not aligned with transportation priorities, can languish in early project development stages, and may never be started at all; (4) in fiscal year 1992, less than 3 percent of flexible highway funds were used to finance mass transit and nontraditional projects, and 3 percent of flexible mass transit capital funds were used to finance nontraditional projects; and (5) while ISTEA encouraged a total systems approach to select among transportation alternatives, state and local decisionmakers need help in meeting this goal.

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