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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / 2002 Conditions and Performance

Conditions and Performance

Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report

Executive Summary
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Executive Summary
Part I: Description of Current System
Ch1: The Role of Highways and Transit
Ch2: System and Use Characteristics
Ch3: System Conditions
Ch4: Operational Performance
Ch5: Safety Performance
Ch6: Finance

Part II: Investment Performance Analyses
Ch7: Capital Investment Requirements
Ch8: Comparison of Spending and Investment Requirements
Ch9: Impacts of Investment
Ch10: Sensitivity Analysis

Part III: Bridges
Ch11: Federal Bridge Program Status of the Nation's Bridges

Part IV: Special Topics
Ch12: National Security
Ch13: Highway Transportation in Society
Ch14: The Importance of Public Transportation
Ch15: Macroeconomic Benefits of Highway Investment
Ch16: Pricing
Ch17: Transportation Asset Management
Ch18: Travel Model Improvement Program
Ch19: Air Quality
Ch20: Federal Safety Initiatives
Ch21: Operations Strategies
Ch22: Freight

Part V: Supplemental Analyses of System Components
Ch23: Interstate System
Ch24: National Highway System
Ch25: NHS Freight Connectors
Ch26: Highway-Rail Grade Crossings
Ch27: Transit Systems on Federal Lands

Appendix A: Changes in Highway Investment Requirements Methodology
Appendix B: Bridge Investment/Performance Methodology
Appendix C: Transit Investment Condition and Investment Requirements Methodology
List of Contacts

Ch 9: Impacts of Investment

Highway and Bridge

Linkage Between Recent Condition and Performance Trends and Recent Spending Trends
Spending by all levels of government on system preservation increased by 45.7 percent from $23.0 to $33.6 billion between 1997 and 2000. This increased investment in roadway and bridge rehabilitation and resurfacing is reflected in the improvements in pavement ride quality and reductions in bridge deficiencies that are described elsewhere in this report.

Investment in system expansion has also increased, but at a much lower rate relative to outlays for system preservation. While the rate of growth in average annual hours of traveler delay has decreased, the level of investment has not stopped the overall growth in congestion.

Impact of Future Investment on Highway Conditions and Performance
If average annual highway capital investment from 2001 to 2020 reaches the projected $106.9 billion Cost to Improve Highways and Bridges level and is applied in the manner suggested by the analysis, the average pavement quality is projected to improve by 13.9 percent relative to year 2000 levels. Improvements in highway operational performance would cause average speeds to rise by 6.0 percent, while average highway user costs would decline by 3.6 percent.

If all levels of government combined invested at the Cost To Maintain projected level of $75.9 billion, and shifted more of their investment toward system expansion to address increasing congestion problems, average speeds would improve, while average pavement roughness would worsen. By definition, user costs would remain at year 2000 levels.

Impact of Investment on Travel Growth

While future travel growth will be primarily driven by factors such as population growth and growth in economic activity, the amount of travel growth on a highway segment may also be affected by the level of investment on that segment. Investments that reduce the economic cost of using a facility may lead to increased use, while increasing congestion on an unimproved roadway may cause travel growth to be lower than it otherwise would be. The travel growth forecasts used in the analysis of highway investment requirements in this report are dynamic, in the sense that they allow feedback between the level of future investment and future VMT growth.

If highway-user costs are maintained at current levels as they would be under the Cost to Maintain scenario, the analysis projects that urban VMT would grow by an average annual rate of 1.96 percent. If highway-user costs declined, as they would under the Cost to Improve scenario, this rate would increase to 2.19 percent per year.


The Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM) does not estimate the impact of capital investment in transit infrastructure on the demand for transit services. Rather, assumed growth in passenger miles traveled (PMT) is the driving factor in estimating transit investment needs. For this reason, it is impossible to determine how achieving the required investment levels would affect transit ridership, user costs, and the potential for additional capital investment. There is evidence, however, to suggest that investments in transit infrastructure in areas with latent transit demand will increase ridership.

Historically and since 1993, actual investment in transit capital infrastructure has been less than estimated investment requirements to Maintain Conditions and Performance.

Changes in Condition and Age
As indicated in Chapter 3, the average condition of bus vehicles has been relatively constant over the last 13 years, with a very slight improvement in 1993. The average condition of rail vehicles, on the other hand, appears to be gradually declining-from 3.91 in 1987 to 3.55 in 2000. The average age of bus vehicles, including vans, gradually declined during the early nineties but has remained relatively constant (at about 7 years) since 1996. The average age of the rail fleet has increased from 15.6 years in 1987 to 20.4 years in 1997, and 21.8 years in 2000. As fleet size has increased since 1987, the absolute number of overage vehicles-both bus and rail-has also increased. In 2000, there were 16,000 overage buses, 44 percent more than in 1987, and 6,770 overage rail vehicles, 138 percent more than in 1987. Although the conditions of non-vehicle infrastructure appear to have improved since 1997, a significant percentage of these assets are in less than adequate condition.

Changes in Performance
In 2000, the average rail speed was 24.9 miles per hour, its lowest rate since 1990, and rail vehicle utilization rates reached new highs in 2000, well above the utilization rates that existed in the early 1990s. This reflects increased usage in the larger, older systems, which tend to have slower speeds.

Historical Capital Investment and Conditions and Performance
Capital spending levels have been approximately equal to or slightly higher than the pure replacement and rehabilitation levels necessary to Maintain Conditions. However, about half of current capital spending appears to have been allocated to rehabilitation and replacement, with the remainder going to asset expansion. Although past spending levels appear to have Maintained Conditions for buses and to have almost Maintained Conditions for rail vehicles, the absolute number of overage bus and rail vehicles has increased. During the past few years, funding levels have been sufficient to Maintain Performance for bus modes of public transport, but the performance of rail modes has declined slightly.

Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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