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September 06, 2007


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Charlie, can you source the Transportation Dept. study for me, please? I always like to check the assumptions on such studies.

I take your point then to be, "even if you put all the earmark money back into a general fund, we still need more." The sticking point is on agreeing to what "need" means. But it's late, so I "need" a beer.

Charlie Quimby

Sorry I didn't provide the link. If I had, my attribution would have been more precise: it's from a USDoT Federal Highway Administration Report called, "Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: [UPDATE: 2006] Conditions and Performance." The number cited does not include the transit investment.

It's full of good data. I'll note for those not following the link, the report also a higher estimate, the maximum cost to improve (the one you might expect a progressive think tank to quote!):

[UPDATE: Quote from 2004 Report deleted.]

[UPDATE: "The average annual Cost to Maintain Highways and Bridges is projected to be $78.8 billion from all sources for 2005 to 2024. Accounting for inflation between 2002 and 2004 (using FHWA's Construction Bid Price Index), this estimate is 2.3 percent greater than the 'Cost to Maintain' for 2003 to 2022 reported in the 2004 C&P report. At this level of investment, future conditions and performance of the Nation's highway system would be maintained at a level sufficient to keep average highway user costs from rising above their 2004 levels. The average annual Maximum Economic Investment for ('Cost to Improve') highways and bridges is projected to be $131.7 billion for 2005 to 2024, which is 6.2 percent higher than the estimate in the 2004 C&P report for 2003 to 2022, again accounting for inflation. This figure represents an 'investment ceiling' above which it would not be cost beneficial to invest.”

For the $131.7 billion level, the report identifies $61.0 billion (46 percent) for “capital investment focused on preserving the condition of the pavement and bridge infrastructure,” $58.8 billion (45 percent) for system expansion and $11.9 billion (9 percent) for system enhancement.]

Here's the chapter link containing the reference:
[UPDATE: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/2006cpr/chap7.htm]

For readers who want something shorter, here's the chapter executive summary: [UPDATE:

Note Chapter 10 includes sensitivity analysis, which may be of interest to you, if not most of our readers.

Feel free to come back if you find issues with the assumptions. We "need" more discussion like this.

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