Taxpayers spend an extraordinary amount of money to maintain and expand America’s network of roads, rails, bridges, bike paths, and sidewalks. With this investment, we have a right to expect fair and efficient use of our tax dollars. Unfortunately, the current system instead wastes billions of dollars on inefficient and unnecessary projects and fails to equitably balance all transportation needs.
The majority of surface transportation money is spent on highways and roads. In 2001, federal, state, and local taxpayers spent approximately $104 billion on highways, and $27.8 billion of that total came from federal funds. Transit spending that year totaled $32.4 billion, with $5.3 billion from federal funds. Federal policy has created a system where highway projects receive more money and are more easily approved than other transportation projects, yet highway projects are subject to less federal oversight. The resulting inefficiency has created a situation in which spending on highways has soared to record levels, yet congestion is increasing and many of our existing roads and bridges remain in disrepair.
Road to Ruin highlights 27 proposed federal-aid highway projects from every region in the country. All of these projects face significant public opposition because they would waste tax dollars and cause significant and unnecessary harm to communities, the environment, and public health. Hundreds of projects were reviewed for Road to Ruin. Each highlights problems with federal transportation spending and raises questions about how transportation projects are approved.
Read Road to Ruin 2004.