Defining the Legacy for Users: Understanding Strategies and Implications for Highway Funding

There is little question that highway congestion presents a significant threat to the economy. Estimates for traffic growth measured in vehicle miles traveled suggest increases exceeding 70% by 2025. Exacerbating the congestion issue is the condition of the U.S. surface transportation system, where demand exceeds capacity and maintenance needs continue to increase. On a system that carries over 68% of the nation's freight, the impending crisis must be addressed. However, the requisite funding to maintain and improve the system is also facing its own shortfalls. While much research has been devoted to the issue of paying for highway infrastructure, very little has addressed critical funding and infrastructure issues from the transportation system user perspective. This study attempts to address this gap in the research by providing rational benefit-cost assessments for transportation investment levels and priorities. The central objective of this research is to define and understand the current state of transportation needs and finance in the United States, with particular attention paid to the financing of highway infrastructure maintenance and expansion. A variety of data was collected and analyzed with an emphasis on publicly available data sources including state and federal DOT datasets, as well as academic and private sector datasets. Using the literature, data and expert input, analyses were conducted on the current transportation funding environment, system needs and a range of finance methods. Through this approach, the research team sought to determine true cost and benefit assessments of existing funding mechanisms, new alternative finance strategies, and their relative impacts on transportation system revenue and users. The resulting analysis identifies the existing infrastructure revenue collection method - the motor fuels excise tax - as the most efficient approach. Also identified are a number of revenue enhancements which can be achieved by eliminating motor fuel tax exemptions, transportation trust fund diversions and realigning transportation priorities. In examining alternative financing approaches, the research highlights the inefficiencies and equity issues inherent in a move toward increased tolling and privatization of our infrastructure.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 89p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01052029
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 25 2007 4:07PM