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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 1, 2000
Contact: Jim Pinkelman
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 36-00

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Says Record Infrastructure Investments Have Improved Transportation Safety, System Conditions

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater today announced a report on the status of the nation's surface transportation system, saying that record levels of highway and transit investment by the Clinton-Gore Administration, $34.5 billion in 2000 alone, have greatly improved transportation safety and enhanced system conditions but that further progress is necessary in the new century and the new millennium.

"Public investment in surface transportation is at its highest level ever," Secretary Slater said. "This report illustrates how our record levels of investment have paid off in enhanced safety, which is our highest transportation priority, and an improved surface transportation system. The report also makes clear, however, more still needs to be done."

The report finds that the average annual cost to maintain physical conditions of highways and bridges for the next 20 years is projected to be $56.6 billion by all levels of government in 1997 dollars. It finds that capital spending on highways and bridges would need to rise 16.3 percent above 1997 levels to maintain this level. Over the life of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), this difference is expected to decline to 5.7 percent.

The estimated average annual investment required to maintain the transit systems in the same condition as today is $10.8 billion. The estimated cost to improve the transit systems by eliminating deficiencies is estimated to be $16 billion. Capital spending on transit would need to increase 41 percent to reach the $10.8 billion projected as the cost to maintain transit systems. This difference is expected to decline to 12.9 percent over the life of TEA-21.

Total spending on highways and bridges was $101.3 billion for highways and bridges in 1997, an 8.4 percent increase over 1995. Of this, $48.7 billion was for capital improvements, a 10.2 percent increase. The federal government contributed 41.1 percent of the capital outlay, down from 44.5 percent in 1995.

Total spending on transit was $25.1 billion in 1997, a 5.5 percent increase over 1995. Of that total, $7.6 billion was for capital improvements, an increase of 8.6 percent. The federal government contributed 27 percent of public funding for transit, up from 25 percent in 1995.

In addition, the report finds that the pavement condition of the nation's urban and rural highways has improved overall. Since 1993, the percentage of Interstate road miles with acceptable ride quality increased from 91.2 percent in 1993 to 92.4 percent in 1997. The percent of total road miles in poor condition dropped from 8.6 percent to 6.6 percent over that same time period.

The report also finds that the condition of the nation's bridges has improved, with the percentage of deficient bridges overall at 29.6 percent in 1998, compared with 34.6 percent in 1992. The Interstate system has the lowest percentage of deficient bridges, 16.4 percent in rural areas and 26.8 percent in urban areas . Deficient bridges are not necessarily unsafe but, in many cases, are not built to meet current traffic demands.

Transit systems route miles show a 10-year increase of 44.2 percent in rail service and 10.4 percent in non-rail service. Vehicle revenue miles for rail increased 22.4 percent, while non-rail increased 17.1 percent over the period. In 1997, rail travel accounted for almost 53 percent of transit passenger miles while serving just 5.1 percent of route miles.

The average condition of urban bus vehicles was 3.1 on a scale of 5.0, or "adequate," with the status largely unchanged over the last decade. The average condition of rail vehicles was 4.0, or "good." The downward trend in rail vehicle condition is caused primarily by a deterioration in the nation's heavy rail vehicles, which comprise 60 percent of rail vehicles and whose average condition rating declined from 4.7 in 1987 to 3.9 in 1997.

The study finds that most measures of congestion show an increase over the last several years. Travel density in terms of travel per lane mile is clearly increasing. Delays increased on all highways between 1993 and 1997, rising from 8.3 to 9 hours per 1,000 VMT. Although daily VMT has grown for both rural and urban highways, it has increased at a faster rate on rural routes. DVMT grew by 3.4 percent on rural interstates between 1987 and 1997.

The department's Condition and Performance Report: 1999 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit, is a biennial report to Congress that provides information on the physical and operating characteristics and future investment needs of the highway, bridge and transit segments of the nation's surface transportation system.

Copies of the report can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-240-5674 or in the Washington, D.C. area, (202) 366-9899.

The report is also available on FHWA web site at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/1999cpr/

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