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Highway Infrastructure: Preliminary Information on the Timely Completion of Highway Construction Projects

GAO-02-1067T Published: Sep 19, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 2002.
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The United States is the most mobile nation on the planet. Constructing, improving, and repairing roads and bridges is fundamental to meeting the nation's mobility needs to facilitate commerce, national defense, and pleasure use and to promote economic growth. Therefore, it is important that highway projects using federal financial support are completed in as timely a manner as possible. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and based on its professional judgment, it typically takes from 9 to 19 years to plan, gain approval for, and construct a new, major federally funded highway project that has significant environmental impacts. However, these projects constitute only 3 percent of all federally funded projects, according to FHWA. Officials in federal and state agencies and other knowledgeable organizations indicate that delivering larger, more complex or controversial projects may take longer to complete than is typical for most highway projects. In addition to needing more time because of their size and complexity, they often take longer to complete because they must comply with more federal and state requirements and because of the public interest that they may generate. Federal and state agencies have undertaken several initiatives to improve completion times for highway construction projects. Most of these initiatives address opportunities for reducing the time required to obtain environmental approvals.

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