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Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2004 Conditions and Performance
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Chapter 7 Capital Investment Requirements


Exhibit 7-1 compares the 20-year average annual investment requirements in this report with those presented in the 2002 C&P report. The first column shows the projection for 2001 to 2020 based on 2000 data shown in the 2002 C&P report, stated in 2000 dollars. The second column restates these highway and transit values in 2002 dollars, to offset the effect of inflation. The third column shows new average annual investment requirement projections for 2003 to 2022 based on 2002 data.

Results for highways, bridges, and transit are presented for two key scenarios, one in which the status of the current system is maintained, and one in which it is improved. However, the exact specifications of the scenarios differ for each mode. Investment requirements for highways and bridges are drawn from the Highway Economic Requirements System (HERS), which estimates highway preservation and highway and bridge capacity expansion investment; the National Bridge Investment Analysis System (NBIAS), which estimates future bridge preservation requirements; and external adjustments to reflect functional classes and improvement types not directly modeled. Transit investment requirements for urbanized area operators that report to the National Transit Database (NTD) are estimated from the Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM). Requirements for rural and special services are estimated separately based on the number of vehicles, the percentage of overage vehicles, vehicle replacement costs, and actual and industry-recommended replacement ages.

Exhibit 7-1 Highway, Bridge, and Transit Investment Requirement Projections Compared with Data from the 2002 C and P Report
Statistic 2001–2020 Projection
(Based on 2000 Data)
2002–2022 Projection
(Based on 2002 Data)
2002 Report Adjusted for Inflation
Average Annual Investment Requirements2000 $2002 $2002 $
Cost to Maintain
Highways and Bridges$75.9 bil$77.1 bil$73.8 bil
Transit$14.8 bil$15.4 bil$15.6 bil
Cost to Improve
Highways and Bridges (Maximum Economic Investment Level)$106.9 bil$108.5 bil$118.9 bil
Transit$20.6 bil$21.4 bil$24.0 bil

This chapter focuses on the estimated investment requirements for the "Improve" and "Maintain" scenarios noted in Exhibit 7-1. Chapter 9 includes an analysis of the projected impacts of these and other future investment levels on conditions and performance. Chapter 10 includes a sensitivity analysis, showing how the estimated investment requirements would change under different assumptions about the values of key model parameters.

Background information on the development of the future investment requirements estimates, and the motivation for using economic analysis as the basis for the estimates, is presented in the introduction to Part II. That section also discusses uncertainty in the investment requirement modeling process and the relationship between pricing and investment requirements. As is noted there, increased adoption of congestion pricing (which is not accounted for in the investment estimates presented in this chapter) would be expected to lead to more efficient operation of the highway network, lower levels of congestion, and some delay or reduction in future capital investment requirements. More information on the methodology used to develop the investment projections, including recent changes to the methodology, is contained in Appendices A, B, and C. Part V of this report examines some fundamental data and analytical issues relating to the types of investment/performance analysis reflected in this chapter.

Both the highway and transit analyses depend heavily on forecasts of future demand. Chapter 10 explores the effects that varying assumptions about future travel demand and some of the other key parameters in the highway and transit investment requirement analytical processes would have on the projections identified in Exhibit 7-1. Highway travel growth forecasts are also discussed in Chapter 9.

Highways and Bridges

The average annual Maximum Economic Investment for ("Cost to Improve") highways and bridges is projected to be $118.9 billion for 2003 to 2022. This figure represents an "investment ceiling" above which it would not be cost beneficial to invest. Accounting for inflation (using FHWA's Construction Bid Price Index), this estimate is 9.5 percent greater than the "Cost to Improve" for 2001 to 2020 reported in the 2002 C&P report. The average annual "Cost to Maintain" highways and bridges is projected to be $73.8 billion for 2003 to 2022, which is 4.3 percent lower than the estimate in the 2002 C&P report for 2001 to 2020, again accounting for inflation. 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 2002 levels.

Q. What is the Federal share of the highway and transit investment requirements identified in this report?

The investment requirements identified in this report represent the projected levels of total capital investment that would be necessary to obtain certain outcomes. The question of what portion should be funded by the Federal government, State governments, local governments, or the private sector is outside the scope of this report.

Chapter 6 includes information on historic trends in public funding for highways and transit by different levels of government.

The changes in projected investment requirements from the 2002 report are attributable both to changes in the underlying characteristics, conditions, and performance of the highway system as reported in the available data sources, and to changes in the methodology and models used to generate the estimates. Notable HERS methodological changes include the addition of new procedures designed to reflect the impact that certain types of operational strategies and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) deployments may have on system performance, revised pavement deterioration models and updated improvement cost estimates, and the consideration of work zone delay in the benefit calculations.

Considering operations strategies and investments, which are considerably less costly in terms of initial outlays than conventional capacity investments, results in a lower estimate of the amount of investment necessary to achieve a given level of performance. Updated, increased assumptions about the unit costs of capacity investments tend to make such improvements relatively less attractive at lower funding levels, but still cost beneficial overall, resulting in an increased cost of implementing all such investments. Including work zone delay in the calculations furthers this trend by making major projects with lengthy construction times relatively less attractive as well in benefit-cost terms, especially for scenarios based on relatively lower overall levels of investment. Further information on these methodological changes is found later in this chapter, as well as in Appendix A.

Q. A figure of $375 billion in needed 6-year Federal highway and transit spending has been widely cited as coming from the 2002 C&P report? What is the comparable number from this report?

Though widely cited as coming directly from the 2002 C&P report, the $375 billion figure did not appear anywhere within the report itself. The investment requirement scenarios presented in the C&P report are long-term, 20-year estimates shown in constant base-year dollars. These scenarios are intended to be illustrative of how alternative investment levels might impact the future conditions and performance of the transportation system, and the report does not endorse any particular level of investment. The estimates are not intended to correspond to any specific legislative period or cycle, and no assumptions are made about what level the Federal share of capital investment under any particular scenario would or should be. Outside analysts can and do make use of the statistics presented in the C&P report to draw their own conclusions about these types of issues, but any such analysis would require a series of additional assumptions that are not reflected in this document.

The NBIAS model was first used for estimating future investment requirements for bridge preservation in the 2002 C&P report. Since that time, the model has been significantly enhanced. The most notable change was the extension of all aspects of the analysis to the individual bridge level; previously, the model had evaluated bridge replacements on a case-by-case basis, but had assessed routine repair and rehabilitation actions on a more aggregated basis. The new approach, coupled with revised estimates of bridge engineering and construction costs, has revealed additional opportunities for cost-beneficial bridge preservation investment. Further information on NBIAS is presented later in this chapter, as well as in Appendix B.

The increase in the Maximum Economic Investment for highways and bridges relative to the last report is also related to the fact that capital investment by all levels of government between 2000 and 2002 remained below the "Cost to Maintain" level. Consequently, the overall performance of the system declined, which increased the number of potentially cost-beneficial highway and bridge investments that would address these performance problems. Improvements in the methodology used to model highway investment, allowing for more flexibility in choosing expansion options, also resulted in more cost-beneficial projects being found by the models, and in higher estimated costs for some of these projects on heavily congested roads in major urban areas.


The estimated average annual "Cost to Maintain" transit asset conditions and operating performance is estimated to be $15.6 billion, compared with $14.8 billion in 2000 dollars presented in the last report. Eighty-seven percent of transit investment requirements will be in urban areas with populations of over 1 million, reflecting the fact that 91 percent of the Nation's passenger miles are currently in these areas. The average annual "Cost to Improve" both the physical condition of transit assets and transit operational performance to targeted levels by 2022 is estimated to be $24.0 billion, compared with $20.6 billion in 2000 dollars for the 2000 to 2020 period presented in the last report.

Fifty-eight percent of the total amount needed to maintain conditions and performance, or $9.0 billion dollars annually, and 62 percent of the total amount needed to improve conditions and performance, or $14.9 billion annually, are estimated to be for rail infrastructure. Vehicles and guideway elements are estimated to require the largest amount of the total capital investment of all rail assets between 2003 and 2022, followed in descending order of investment requirements by stations, power systems, and facilities.

Forty-two percent of the total amount needed to maintain conditions and performance, or $6.5 billion dollars annually, and 39 percent of the total amount needed to improve conditions and performance, or $9.1 billion annually, are estimated to be for nonrail infrastructure. Vehicles are estimated to require the largest amount of the total capital investment in nonrail assets between 2003 and 2022, followed in descending order of investment requirements by facilities, guideway elements (dedicated lanes for buses), power systems, and stations.

Since the 2002 report, the asset inventory and asset deterioration information in TERM has been improved through special data collection efforts and engineering surveys. Ridership forecasts have been revised downward very slightly from 1.6 percent to 1.5 percent per year based on updated information collected from an expanded list of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Changes in investment requirements reflect real changes in projected ridership, transit infrastructure size, and transit asset replacement costs. They also reflect improvements in the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA's) knowledge about the magnitude, deterioration, conditions, and replacement costs of these assets.

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