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Physical Infrastructure: Challenges and Investment Options for the Nation's Infrastructure

GAO-08-763T Published: May 08, 2008. Publicly Released: May 08, 2008.
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Physical infrastructure is critical to the nation's economy and affects the daily life of virtually all Americans--from facilitating the movement of goods and people within and beyond U.S. borders to providing clean drinking water. However, this infrastructure--including aviation, highway, transit, rail, water, and dam infrastructure--is under strain. Estimates to repair, replace, or upgrade aging infrastructure as well as expand capacity to meet increased demand top hundreds of billions of dollars. Calls for increased investment in infrastructure come at a time when traditional funding for infrastructure projects is increasingly strained, and the federal government's fiscal outlook is worse than many may understand. This testimony discusses (1) challenges associated with the nation's surface transportation, aviation, water, and dam infrastructure, and the principles GAO has identified to help guide efforts to address these challenges and (2) existing and proposed options to fund investments in the nation's infrastructure. This statement is primarily based on a body of work GAO has completed for the Congress over the last several years. To supplement this existing work, GAO also interviewed Department of Transportation officials to obtain up-to-date information on the status of the Highway Trust Fund and various funding and financing options and reviewed published literature to obtain information on dam infrastructure issues.

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AccountabilityAviationCritical infrastructureFederal aid for highwaysFederal aid for transportationFederal aid to statesFederal fundsstate relationsFiscal policiesFund auditsFunds managementInvestment planningPolicy evaluationProgram evaluationReporting requirementsTransportation costsTransportation industryTransportation planningTransportation policiesTransportation researchProgram goals or objectives