As part of a broader push this week geared toward increasing investment in the nation’s infrastructure, the White House released an extensive report on Monday examining what it characterised as the crumbling state of much of the nation’s roads and bridges.
The report’s release coincides with a congressional dispute over the future of the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to become insolvent by next month.
Here are some key findings the White House highlights in its report:
• In the last decade, the U.S. has fallen from a No. 7 ranking to 18th in the overall quality of its roads, according to the most recent World Economic Forum rankings.
• 65% of America’s major roads are rated in “less than good condition,” and about one-quarter of the country’s bridges “require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic.”
• About 45% of Americans lack access to public transit.
Along with the report, the White House also released a pair of interactive maps, which provide a state-by-state look at the conditions of each state’s roads and bridges. The map also allows users to submit photos of roads and bridges in their areas in need of repair.
Congress is working on a short-term fix that would replenish the fund through next year, but President Barack Obama will urge lawmakers — particularly Republicans — to agree on a larger-scale package that would fund other various infrastructure projects and shore up the Highway Trust Fund for the long term. On Tuesday, Obama is set to deliver remarks on the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia, where infrastructure spending will be a major focus.
The Highway Trust Fund is a transportation and infrastructure fund financed by gasoline taxes. It is running out of money because the federal government now spends more money on those projects than it collects from the gas tax, which has not been raised in more than 20 years.
The Obama administration’s push this week will focus on the longer-term. Earlier this year, Obama proposed a four-year, $US302 billion solution to the highway crisis, which would end the trust fund’s dependence on the gas tax and replenish it through tax reforms.
In its report, the White House highlighted some of the benefits of infrastructure investment and some of the ways it says it “costs” Americans. Transportation, for example, is the second highest expenditure for American families next to housing, so improvements in methods of travelling that lead to lower costs would benefit families’ budgets. Here’s a chart from the report showing the average annual additional cost of vehicle maintenance to drivers in major cities because of subpar road conditions:
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