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Improving the oversight and controlling the costs of major highway and bridge projects is important for the federal government, which often pays 80 percent of these projects' costs. Widespread consensus exists on the need to fund such projects, given the doubling of freight traffic and worsening congestion projected over the next 20 years, yet growing competition for limited federal and state funding dictates that major projects be managed efficiently and cost effectively. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides funding to the states for highway and bridge projects through the federal-aid highway program. This funding is apportioned to the states, and state departments of transportation choose eligible projects for funding. FHWA provides oversight to varying degrees, and, under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), FHWA and each state enter into an agreement documenting the types of projects the state will oversee. This statement for the record summarizes cost and oversight issues raised in reports and testimonies GAO has issued since 1995 on major highway and bridge projects and describes options that GAO has identified to enhance federal oversight of these projects, should Congress determine that such action is needed and appropriate.

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