Report finds highway bill funds not going to the right places

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Lawmakers have touted an array of simplifications to transportation appropriations in the MAP-21 from its predecessor, the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which expired in 2009 and was temporarily extended until this year.

However, the CAP report, which is based on transportation spending data from 2010, finds that "slightly more than $10 billion — out of approximately $43 billion in federal highway funds — was distributed in equity bonuses and minimum payments to states that could not demonstrate sufficient need through the traditional needs-based funding formulas." 

Cooper said that leads to neglect of transportation projects in populous states.

“Without question there aren’t enough funds to go around, and our road, bridge, and transit needs are growing," she said. "That’s why its especially problematic that Congress continues to direct federal tax dollars to pay for carefully contrived set-asides intended to meet political objectives rather than the real need for infrastructure repair.

"Instead of continuing to siphon federal dollars from high-need states such as California, New York, and Pennsylvania to support low-need states such as Alaska, it’s time lawmakers dedicated each federal dollar to the country’s most pressing highway and transit needs," Cooper continued.

The full Center for American progress report on transportation spending can be read here.