CBO says waste in highway funding mainly due to prioritizing road expansion over maintenance | Streetsblog USA

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

the CBO thinks too much is spent on road expansion and too little on maintenance. The construction of the Interstate Highway System made freight shipping and traveling between cities much more efficient, the report says, but since the system was completed in the 1970s spending on highways has been subject to diminishing returns. Current spending “has not shifted” to account for “the importance of maintaining existing capacity,” the CBO writes.

Compounding the problem is induced demand. The CBO points to a recent study finding that “the addition of new lanes is likely to have little effect on congestion within 10 years” as highway lanes fill with new drivers.

In addition, what the U.S. does spend on maintenance flows disproportionally to lesser-used rural highways and not the urban interstates that carry the overwhelming majority of traffic, the CBO says. Urban interstates are in fact the only category of roads receiving federal highway funds where pavement quality is actually degrading.

MoBikeFed comment: It is interesting that the massive public outreach effort that MoDOT engaged in prior to Amendment 7 came to the same conclusion: Missourians want to prioritize maintaining the state highway system above expanding the system.


But many highway engineers and planners--and certainly Congress, whose policies in the federal transportation bills still heavily favor expansion and new construction over basic maintenance--haven't gotten the memo.

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