Types of Work Performed Using Resurfacing, Restoration, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Federal Highway Funds

RCED-84-83: Published: Feb 29, 1984. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the operations of two Federal-aid highway programs in seven States to determine: (1) what interstate and noninterstate rehabilitation program funds are being used for; (2) if the legislative requirement to use 20 percent of primary and secondary funds for noninterstate rehabilitation program work is adequate; (3) how States select interstate and noninterstate projects; (4) whether cost-benefit analysis or comparative costing is used in the project selection process; and (5) whether any States were deferring maintenance on interstate highways so that the roads would deteriorate to such an extent that the repairs would be eligible for Federal funding.

GAO found that resurfacing accounted for the predominant use of interstate funds in five States and of noninterstates funds in six States. New York used both its interstate and noninterstate funds primarily for bridge rehabilitation, and Georgia used its interstate funds primarily for road reconstruction. All seven States met the legislative requirement to use 20 percent of primary and secondary highway funds for noninterstate rehabilitation program work, and GAO did not anticipate problems in meeting this requirement in the future. However, State officials felt that the requirement was unnecessary. States used different approaches to identify, rank, and select projects. Two States have recently developed new processes for selecting projects that may result in needs being addressed on a more systematic basis. Most States did not use cost-benefit analyses or comparative costing when selecting resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation projects, although some States did use these techniques for reconstruction projects. GAO found no evidence that the States were deferring maintenance in anticipation of Federal funds; however, the Federal Highway Administration's New York office has approved Federal funds for deferred maintenance involving sealing road joints even though this work has traditionally not been eligible for Federal funding.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency plans to take no further action on the New York situation. There are several proposals to develop guidance but there is no indication that actual guidance is going to be issued.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration should review the New York office's decision to fund the sealing of joints to determine whether such work, which has traditionally been considered as maintenance, should be eligible for funding. Further, if the Administrator determines that joint sealing is eligible for Federal funding, Administration headquarters should more clearly define for field offices what types of work are eligible for non-interstate rehabilitation program funds and what types of work are maintenance and, as such, are not eligible for Federal funding.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration


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