Issues to Be Considered During Deliberations to Reauthorize the Federal-Aid Highway Program

T-RCED-90-50: Published: Mar 19, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1990.

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GAO discussed issues regarding the reauthorization of the Federal-Aid Highway Program. GAO noted that: (1) although construction of the interstate component of the federal-aid highway system was nearly complete, the Department of Transportation estimated that it would cost between $4.7 billion and $6.1 billion annually to maintain road conditions, the system would need 21,000 to 25,000 additional lane miles to accommodate estimated increased interstate system congestion, and that it needed $24 billion to repair and maintain interstate bridges; (2) the Highway Trust Fund's end-of-year account balance of $10.5 billion for fiscal year 1989 was not a surplus, since the funds were needed to pay for outstanding commitments; (3) future Highway Trust Fund revenues were expected to exceed the level of future authorized commitments; (4) 1987 legislation authorized a pilot toll program that would allow states to use a maximum of 35 percent of federal funding for transportation projects that also involved collecting tolls as revenue; (5) replacing predominantly used categorical grants with broader and more flexible funding alternatives could enhance states' ability to pool financial resources and target their priority transportation needs; and (6) if Congress chose to relax federal laws regarding environmental protection, minimum wage, minority contracting, and highway design, it would have options for ensuring the protection of such concerns.

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