Joseph L. Perkins
Commissioner, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
on behalf of
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
The State of America’s
Committee on Environment and public works
Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure
and Nuclear Safety
Founded in 1914, AASHTO represents the departments concerned with highway and transportation in the
fifty States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its mission is a transportation system for the nation
that balances mobility, economic prosperity, safety and the environment.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Joe Perkins, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Chairman of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Highways, and am appearing before you today on behalf of AASHTO’s members, which include the transportation agencies representing the fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. I am here to report to you on AASHTO’s Bottom Line Report which we released jointly with you on September 26th and which documents the nation’s highway, bridge and transit needs.
First, however, I want to thank you for your recognition of the needs of our nation’s surface transportation and its vital contribution to preserving the nation’s economy and our quality of life. We appreciate your leadership and efforts to ensure that in the final year of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21), funding will be restored to current levels.
As Congress begins its deliberations on the reauthorization of federal highway and transit programs, AASHTO with the assistance of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Federal Transit Administration and the Transportation Research Board has undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the investments needed through 2009 to maintain or improve our nation’s surface transportation system.
The results of this assessment show that:
· An annual capital investment of $92 billion by all levels of government for highways and bridges is necessary to maintain both the physical condition and performance of the system over twenty years and explicitly during the next reauthorization cycle. This level of investment holds user cost at less than a one percent increase; holds pavement roughness and delay constant; and maintains current levels of system reliability.
· An annual capital investment of $125.6 billion by all levels of government for highways and bridges is necessary to improve both the physical condition and performance of the system over twenty years and explicitly during the next reauthorization cycle. With this level of investment, pavement condition improves by almost 15 percent; delay falls by almost 13 percent despite expected growth in travel; average speeds increase; and decreased user costs equate to an approximate $60 billion per year savings.
From Fiscal Year 1990 to 2000, spending by all levels of government for capital,
maintenance and operations grew from $75 billion to $128.5 billion – a 71 percent increase. In Fiscal Year 2000, $64.4 billion from all levels of government was invested in highway and bridge capital improvements. Applying the same rate of growth – 71 percent – would increase capital investment by all levels of government to $110 billion, which is comparable to the results of AASHTO’s assessment.
· An annual capital investment of $18.9 billion is required between 2004 and 2009 from all levels of government just to maintain the existing physical condition and service performance of the nation’s transit systems, if ridership only grows modestly at 1.6 percent per year. In Fiscal Year 2000, about $9.5 billion was spent by all levels of government on transit capital infrastructure.
· An annual capital investment of $43.9 billion is required to improve the current physical condition and service performance of the nation’s transit systems, if ridership continues to grow at 3.5 percent.
AASHTO’s assessment of investment needs is based on rigorous, quantitative evaluation using the same data sets and models as used for the development of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance Report. Highway data used for this assessment is provided to the FHWA by the state transportation agencies, which inventory and analyze 112,000 sample road segments. The source of bridge data is FHWA’s National Bridge Inventory database, and transit system and facility data supplied to FTA by transit agencies.
While AASHTO and FHWA utilize virtually the same data and modeling techniques, there are likely to be differences in the results that are reported. The differences can be attributed to variations in base years and time spans, and modeling assumptions and scenarios.
Key Factors Contributing to Needs
The Backlog. Our nation’s repair backlog is a key contributor to our investment needs. Much of the growth in investment needs results from the aging of the transportation system. Over time, weather, ear and age take their tolls on roads, bridges and transit facilities. The repairs, replacements and upgrades needed to bring the existing system up to standard have created a huge backlog of needed investment.
The good news is that with the expanded funding under ISTEA and TEA 21, much progress has been made. The 1999 bridge repair backlog of $87 billion has been reduced to $57 billion today, and the percentage of bridges rated acceptable has increased from 65 percent to 72 percent. More than 80 percent of all roads are rated good to fair. Rural roads, which comprise the great majority of roads, but a much smaller share of travel, have been able to hold their condition relatively stable. Urban roads, in poorer condition to begin with, have deteriorated further. There is continuing improvement in the condition of Interstate pavements, both rural and urban, but despite this progress 18 percent of the Interstate pavements are in poor or mediocre condition, requiring immediate investment.
While we currently have no means of statistically monitoring highway performance, anecdotal evidence and specialized studies make it clear that congestion and declining performance is common. For example, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s most recent Urban Mobility Report, which examines congestion in 75 metropolitan areas, “All of the size categories show more severe congestion that lasts a longer period of time and affects more of the transportation network in 2000 than in 1982. The average annual delay per peak road traveler climbed from 16 hours in 1982 to 62 hours in 2000. And delay over the same period more than quadrupled in areas with less than 1 million people.”
With regard to transit, the significant increase in funding made possible through ISTEA and TEA 21, together with expanded state and local investment, helped spur a 22 percent transit ridership increase during the past six years, bringing ridership to its highest level in 40 years. However, 22 percent of the nation’s buses and 43 percent of its rail rolling stock currently exceed their recommended service life. In rural areas, an estimated 55 percent of the existing fleet has already exceeded their recommended service life.
While ISTEA and TEA 21 enabled us to make great strides, much remains to be done.
The Outlook for Demand. A second factor contributing to needs is demand. The U.S. population grew by 100 million over the last forty years, and is expected to grow by at least 100 million over the next forty. Fifty-four percent of this travel takes place on major highways – Interstates, expressways and major arterials. These are the very facilities – under the states’ jurisdiction – which must serve interstate, interregional, intercity commercial and passenger traffic while increasingly serving as the main streets for connecting us with the activities of our daily lives.
Over the past thirty years, the nation has experienced extraordinary growth in workers and in their travel. This era has been characterized by the baby boom generation’s arrival in the work force, the surge of women into the workplace, sharp increases in driver licensing and auto ownership and a shift in lifestyles. Growth in travel tracks directly with rising incomes, employment and the economy. Over the last decade, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased from 2.1 trillion miles to 2.7 trillion, and is expected to grow by another 600 billion by the year 2010.
Since the mid-1990’s, transit ridership has increased more than 22 percent from 7.8 billion trips annually in 1995 to more than 9.5 billion trips in 2001. Transit ridership has been growing at a rate of 3.5 percent annually over the last six years. If this rate of growth continues, ridership will double in the next twenty years.
Over the next twenty years, domestic freight moved by truck is expected to increase by 70 percent. International trade, which is expected to increase by more than 3 percent annually – doubling by 2020 – will strain the nation’s highways, ports and gateways. Growing volumes of NAFTA trade with Canada and Mexico, and trade with Latin America, the Pacific Rim and Europe – which is giving Americans and residents of other nations greater access to a wide variety of goods at lower costs – has brought significant challenges. The infrastructure at our seaports has grown older and less efficient. Larger trucks operating on older access routes have to deal with short traffic signal cycles and deficient roadway designs. Key border crossings are increasingly congested and our major trade corridors lack the capacity to accommodate projected freight traffic. Increased investment is needed to fix bottlenecks, provide capacity and enhance security.
In rural areas, the competitiveness of the U.S. agricultural sector depends on an efficient, economic and competitive U.S. domestic transportation system. In urban areas, businesses increasingly are dependent on reliable, just-in-time delivery.
Managing the System. Over the past 20 years, growth in travel on the nation’s highways has far exceeded growth in highway capacity. As a result, congestion is a critical problem for metro areas nationwide. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of all delays are the result of non-recurring congestion caused by crashes, weather or other incidents. Efficient management and operation strategies can reduce delays and improve reliability, while also providing such benefits as quicker response by emergency vehicles.
System management and operations covers a wide array of strategies including: incident detection and response; snow and ice management; emergency and disaster response; planning construction disruption; traffic and transit operation and management; and traveler/shipper information. Both capital and operating investments are needed to achieve the benefits of system management. Such investments are eligible for TEA-21 funding, and are an important element for reauthorization.
Other Highway Cost Factors
In addition to the needs estimates produced through the modeling analysis, there are other cost factors, which need to be considered. These include estimates for safety and security, Interstate interchanges, and increasing program delivery costs, which together may equal as much as $11 billion annually.
Safety. On a typical day, 114 people lose their lives on the nation’s highways. In the year 2000, a total of 41,821 peoples died and 3.2 million were injured. Studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that this staggering number of deaths and injuries results in over a $200 billion per year economic loss to the nation. AASHTO has developed a Strategic Highway Safety Plan that identifies 22 key emphasis areas targeted at drivers, vehicles, highways, enforcement, emergency medical services and management. We estimate that implementation of activities in these emphasis areas could save even more that the goal of 5,000 to 7,000 lives annually. Implementation is estimated at $3 billion annually in capital costs and $1 billion annually in operating costs.
Security. The heightened threat of terrorism introduces new imperatives to the Nation’s highway and transit systems. While our highway and transit network is robust and redundant, the consequences, direct and indirect, of a large-scale attack can be significant. Lost links could have long-term significant economic consequences – not to mention the immediate harm done. It is also critical as a means through which first responders reach impacted areas and by which the public is removed from the area in danger.
Protecting the traveling public and commerce from terrorism will require measures to harden facilities from attack, improve emergency response capabilities, upgrade traffic management during crises, and enhance communications among the public, the military, law enforcement and rescue services. Federal, state and local transportation agencies have a joint responsibility to minimize vulnerability of critical transportation infrastructure assets and to prepare for the transportation role in emergency response and recovery.
Over the past year AASHTO’s members examined the security issue, focusing on defense mobilization, asset protection, emergency response preparation and motor carrier security activities, including tracking and credentialing. The cost of enhancing highway and transit security is estimated at $2 billion annually in capital costs and at least $1.2 billion annually in operating costs.
The Cost of Interstate Interchanges. The Interstate is an aging system. Many of the nation’s interchanges are coming due for renewal and reconstructing them can be very costly, in part because these projects often involve safety and efficiency improvements. There is a sense that these costs may be rising faster than other forms of highway costs.
Given the large number of interchange projects planned for the next ten years, AASHTO in conjunction with TRB undertook an investigation of the cost of Interstate interchange projects and the portion of total Interstate spending they represent. Twelve states surveyed were chosen to provide diversity in terms of geography and Interstate system extent. The results indicate that over the past decade approximately 10 percent of national Interstate capital spending went to interchanges. Based on current programs, this percentage could double to 20 percent during this decade. In a few states, interchanges costs are consuming one-third to one-half of Interstate capital outlays.
Increasing Program Delivery Costs. The combination of environmental reviews and mitigation and right-of-way acquisition is adding time and cost to transportation projects. The increase nationally is conservatively estimated at $1 billion annually.
The nation’s extensive public transportation network provides access to jobs; mobility for the young, elderly or disabled and helps reduce congestion, conserve fuel, enhance the efficiency of highway transportation, reduce air pollution and support security and emergency preparedness activities. An efficient, safe and environmentally sound public transportation system is essential to moving people in both urban and rural areas.
Transit capital asset needs include:
· Replace of bus and rail vehicles;
· Major rehabilitation of bus and rail vehicles;
· Elimination of the backlog of vehicle need to bring the nation’s fleet into a state of good repair;
· Replacement or rehabilitation of bus and rail maintenance and yard facilities, stations and tracks;
· Fleet expansion to accommodate increased ridership demands; and
· Expansion of new rail systems to meet demand
If the nation’s urban and rural transit systems only maintain physical conditions and service performance at the levels that are being observed today, annual capital investment needs will be about $19 billion – assuming 1.6 percent annual ridership growth. If the decision is made to improve both the existing physical conditions and improve service performance at the current ridership growth rate of 3.5 percent, the annual transit capital need is about $44 billion.
Core Capacity Needs. In many of the nation’s largest cities, transit ridership has significantly increased during the last six years. As a result, existing rail systems are operating near to, or in excess of, their physical capacity and above a level that provides acceptable passenger comfort and safety. To meet this demand, upgrades will be necessary, including for example, new signal systems to allow more throughput of rail vehicles, double tracking of existing rail lines to provide for additional system capacity and station platform extensions.
New Starts. Many areas across the country have recently completed or are seeking major rail transit capital improvements. Between 1996 and 2001, more than 350 miles of rail transit service were added in 20 cities. The demand for future rail projects continues to grow. Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have 78 New Start projects that have moved beyond the study phase and which carry a price tag of an estimated $47 billion. In addition, more than 150 studies are underway around the country.
Rural Public Transportation Needs. Mobility and access to meet the needs of the 60 million people living in rural areas must include the availability of safe and reliable public transit service, especially to meet the needs of the growing elderly population retiring to rural areas, the disabled and the young – all dependent on alternatives to the automobile. Rural transit needs consist of two major components – the maintenance of the existing system and the expansion of the system to address unmet needs.
The total estimated annual need for rural transit is:
· $191 million for replacement and rehabilitation of existing general public vehicles; and
· $194 million for replacement and rehabilitation of specialized vehicles
· $50 billion for replacement and rehabilitation of intercity vehicles
· $81 billion for replacement and expansion of rural general public and rural specialized maintenance and administrative facilities
· $495 billion expansion of rural general public, rural specialized and rural facilities to improve service
In total, rural public transportation needs are estimated at $0.5 billion annually for the maintain condition and performance scenario, and $1.0 billion for the improve service performance scenario.
Benefits of the Surface Transportation System
Transportation is vital to the national economy and to our quality of life. Its benefits extend from maintaining America’s competitiveness in the global economy to providing access to jobs and education. Here is a sampling of the many ways transportation contributes value to every aspect of American life:
· Today, 11.3 million Americans – one in 11 – are employed in transportation occupations.
· Every billion dollars of federal highway investment generates 47,500 jobs; for every billion in transit investment, job generation is virtually the same.
· In 1997, the country’s roads, railroads, airways, waterways and pipelines shipped 11 billion tons of freight valued at $7 trillion.
· The federal-aid highway program creates 2.5 acres of wetlands for every acre it takes for road construction.
· Since 1970, states have built more than 1,600 miles of noise barriers at a cost of more than $1.9 billion.
· Over the past 11 years, $4.9 billion in enhancement projects – such as bike paths and the preservation of historic bridges and train stations – have been programmed for almost 15,000 communities.
· Today, 28 percent of U.S. production is based on just-in-time practices, which is dependent on a healthy transportation system.
Travel, Tourism and Recreation. Transportation and tourism are vital to our economy. In 2000, 51 million foreign visitors came to the United States, spending $100 billion, generating more than 1.1 million jobs and making tourism America’s fourth-largest export. Travelers to the United States from outside North America spend an estimated $220 per visitor on transportation. Although many use transit or tour buses initially, significant numbers shift to private automobiles on second and third visits.
Domestic travel and tourism dwarf international visits. Americans touring America spent $481 billion and generated an additional 6.5 million jobs during 2000. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, 43.9 million adults in the U.S. took some 272 billion business trips during 1998.
Recreation is one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy, expanding at 5 percent a year. The American Recreation Coalition estimates that there are 8.6 million recreation vehicle-owning households now and 10.4 million expected by 2010. The recreation sector is also heavily dependent on federally owned lands that comprise 650 million acres, or about 29 percent of the total land area of the country. National Park Service areas get more than 273 million visitors annually, who bring more than $5.5 billion in spending a year to nearby communities. The use of Forest Service roads, which total over 380,000 miles, has increased 15-fold over the past twenty years.
Business and leisure travelers, whether foreign visitors or next door neighbors, depend on our nation’s infrastructure for access to a variety of activities and destinations. Transportation investment helps generate greater tourism earnings by making tourist destinations more accessible. Investments to relieve congestion, improve road conditions and signage and increase parking facilities and scenic turnouts help increase tourist volumes, lengths of stay and spending while reducing tourist transportation costs. Investments in transit in and around popular tourist destinations create a more attractive and accessible environment for visitors.
The Bottom Line Series of Needs Documentation
The Bottom Line Report, which is attached, presents AASHTO’s assessment of the nation’s current and projected highway and transit capital investment needs, and was prepared as one source of documentation to inform the coming debate on reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs. We recognize, however, that the all the modes comprising the nation’s transportation system are inextricably linked and we need all parts to function well for the health of the entire system. Moreover, over the next year Congress may consider reauthorization of Amtrak, freight rail financing and reauthorization of the federal airport program as well as reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs. Therefore, the Highway and Transit Bottom Line Report is the first in a series of Bottom Line Reports that are underway. Others that are recently completed or currently underway include AASHTO’s Freight Rail Bottom Line Report; AASHTO’s Intercity Rail Passenger Report; and AASHTO’s Aviation Bottom Line Report, being prepared with cooperation from the National Association of State Aviation Officials.
AASHTO’s Freight Rail Bottom Line Report concludes that to simply keep up with freight rail’s share of forecasted demand, the freight rail system needs substantial addition capital investment. Estimates include:
· $13.8 billion for rail safety, including warning systems, grade separations, grade crossing eliminations and track relocations for both freight and passenger systems.
· $11.8 for short-line improvements, including upgrading of tracks and bridges to handle the newer 286,000 pound and 315,00 railcars coming into service.
· $80 billion to $100 billion over 20 years for Class I infrastructure repair and maintenance.
· $70 billion over 20 years for Class I infrastructure improvements above and beyond repair.
The total cost to achieve this “base case” scenario is estimated at $175 billion to $195 billion over the next 20 years. A more aggressive investment strategy to capture a larger portion of the forecast growth in freight demand would require an additional $30 billion.
Intercity Passenger Rail. AASHTO believes that intercity passenger rail service is a basic element of the nation’s multimodal transportation system. Passenger rail offers opportunities to supplement highway and airport capacity in congested and rapidly growing traffic corridors, offers an essential transportation alternative and contributes to a more dependable and resilient transportation system. At least 36 states are involved in the operation and/or planning of intercity passenger rail corridors. By their estimate, over the next 20 years, $60 billion in capital investment is needed for these rail corridors, which include the federally designated high speed rail corridors. This level of investment does not include additional capital resources needed for longer distance train routes nor does it include the costs of operations. Linked to air, bus and passenger car transportation, these corridors will expedite travel for short-to-mid-length trips in transportation corridors where highway travel is increasingly congested and air travel is increasingly difficult.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, AASHTO looks forward to working with you over the coming year as you begin your deliberations on reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs. I will be pleased to answer any questions now or that you may have for the record.