Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

Cross posted from Smart Growth America

Decades of underinvestment in regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing these roads is rising faster than many states can address them. These liabilities are outlined in a new report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, released today, which examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means 57 percent of these funds was spent on only 1 percent of the nation’s roads, while only 43 percent was dedicated to preserving the 99 percent of the system that already existed. As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Federal taxpayers have an enormous stake in seeing that our roads are kept in good condition,” said Erich W. Zimmermann of Taxpayers for Common Sense at a briefing earlier today. “Billions of precious tax dollars were spent to build our highway system, and neglecting repair squanders that investment. Keeping our roads in good condition reduces taxpayers’ future liabilities.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years – more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined. As this figure illustrates, state have drifted too far from regular preservation and repair and in so doing have created a deficit that is going to take decades to reverse.”

The high cost of poor conditions
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly. Investing too little on road repair increases these future liabilities, and with every dollar spent on new construction many states add to a system they are already failing to keep in good condition.

State and federal leaders can do more to see that highway funds are spent in ways that benefits driver and taxpayers. More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how states invest their transportation dollars and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report.

Click here to read the full report, state-specific data and view the interactive map.


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Call Congressman Mica – Ask Him to Fix It!

Congressman Mica represents the seventh congressional district and Florida and chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  He’s a powerful leader on transportation infrastructure issues, and right now he needs to hear from his constituents.

Right now Congress is debating a Complete Streets Act. Introduced by a California Democrat and an Ohio Republican, the Act would ensure that, in the future, road projects funded by our federal tax dollars take into account people in cars and out of them. The bill mirrors policies being adopted by states and localities all across the country.

To make your voice heard, call Congressman Mica’s office.  The Congressman’s  DC office number is 202-225-4035; his Florida staff at 386-246-6042. Tell the staffer who picks up that you’re a constituent who wants Congressman Mica to fix our broken transportation system and support Complete Streets. Shoot us an email at and let us know how your call goes.

Visit for an interactive map of pedestrian fatalities in your neighborhood.

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Angelenos: Join us Thursday June 16th on a Telephone Town Hall

Sorry, the deadline has passed to participate in the interactive format. But you can still call in yourself and listen. You won’t be able to ask questions on the phone, but you might be able to email questions in to Ryan Wiggins at during the call.

Listen Only Line: 703-485-4748 Event ID: 2595

Sign up to participate in a telephone town hall THURSDAY, JUNE 16TH at 7:30 p.m.

Learn the facts about the thousands of structurally deficient California bridges, and what Congress can do to help address this backlog. 12.8 percent, or 3,135 of all California bridges are structurally deficient. And Los Angeles has a huge share of the state’s deficient bridges — many carrying traffic volumes so high that they top the list of the nation’s busiest deficient bridges. Click here to see the full California statistics.

*Important: there is no call-in number. To participate you must provide a valid (evening) phone number, and we will call you at 7:30 p.m. to join us. You’re free to join and listen in for as long or as short as you like. All fields are required.

Sign up to receive updates and other chances to take action on similar issues by joining T4 America. Check the box below.

Transportation for America

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Preventable pedestrian deaths cost MI $6.31 billion, 2000-2009

From 2000-2009, 47,000 people were killed while walking our nation’s streets, according to the 2011 edition of Transportation for America’s pedestrian safety report. These fatalities occurred largely on streets designed for speeding traffic at the expense of people on foot.

Between 2000 and 2009 1,468 people were killed while walking in Michigan, which cost the state $6.31 billion. Reducing pedestrian fatalities just 10% would have saved Michigan $631.24 million over 10 years. Michigan’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 64.3, which ranks 19th out of 50 states.

Visit to see how your community fared.

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