The State of Transportation

America’s transportation network is a vast system that connects people and places, moves goods and boosts our economy, and ensures our quality of life and safety. The country’s transportation system is comprised of interstates, regional roads, bridges, public transit, airports, ports, and interchanges/connectors affecting thousands of communities, multiple industries and job sectors.

2021 will provide new possibilities and tests for our nation. The Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition is asking federal leaders, Congress and the Biden Administration to deliver on meaningful long-term infrastructure investment. Currently, funding for America’s surface transportation is being provided because of a one-year extension of the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act that happened in September 2020.

Communities across the country understand the need for investing more in America’s national and interdependent transportation system. Concerns grow as highways back up, public transit faces underfunding, and bridges deteriorate.

Ameliorating our nation’s persisting surface-transportation problems intersect with the significance of jumpstarting our economy, addressing the impacts of a global pandemic, and keeping America’s supply chain moving. User fees, rural and urban capacity, maintenance backlogs, and the roles of resilient infrastructure, technology and a re-energized workforce must all be addressed.

The Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations provides $75.4 billion in discretionary funding for the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will receive $49 billion and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will receive $13 billion. In COVID-recovery funding, $10 billion was allocated to state departments of transportation (DOTs) and $14 billion to transit agencies.

While the recently passed Omnibus spending and COVID-relief legislation provide a funding building block for modernizing America’s transportation infrastructure, much more needs to be done. The ATM asks you to consider these important facts:

  • When the National Highway System was devised in the 1950s, the nation’s population was almost half of what it is today and capacity needs have grown substantially. An INRIX 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard reported that drivers in the United States lost more than $88 billion because of traffic congestion in 2019, and the average cost for each driver was $1,377.
  • Because e-commerce has dramatically increased in our country, markets, business and the workforce need our transportation network to move seamlessly and efficiently. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently reported that freight volumes are expected to grow 36 percent between 2020 and 2031.
  • Crucial impacts on public transit provide a wake-up call. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has pointed to a current backlog of $176 billion for transit investments and that figure is expected to increase. Additionally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine underscored in its “COVID-19 Trends Impacting the Future of Transportation Planning and Research” that effects of the pandemic on public transportation emphasizes equity issues regarding options for all Americans, including the economically disadvantaged.
    The federal fuel tax, which provides revenue for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) accounts, has not been raised since 1993. During this time period, its purchasing power has decreased by 44 percent.
  • Based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) numbers released in September 2020 regarding the 10-year cash flow forecast for the HTF, the projected end-of-2030 extra funding needed is still $193 billion, according to the Eno Center for Transportation.
  • In the last World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking, America’s infrastructure dropped from ninth to 13th.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in its just-released America’s Infrastructure Report Card 2021, shows a funding gap of $1.2 trillion for surface transportation. That number is for cumulative investment needs by system based on current trends, extended to 2029.

The ATM Coalition is working collaboratively and continually to reinforce that a loss of assured revenue has led to a growing gap in transportation investment and a deteriorating system. Additionally, The State of Transportation today in our nation requires that the local, state and federal components be understood and a range of solutions be explored.

The ATM’s website, fasterbettersafer.org, is a valuable resource that provides background, real stories about what is happening nationally, current information, and news. Content is also shared through multiple digital platforms to help focus on why transportation infrastructure and sound funding are critically important to our country and its citizens and businesses.

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