New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair

Repair Priorities

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.

$45.2 billion
The amount states would need to spend to bring roads in poor condition into a state of good repair while also maintaining their existing systems.

Those are the findings of Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, a new report out today from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report examines road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, how much states currently invest in road repair and how much they would need to spend to adequately maintain America’s roads.

As the House transportation bill languishes, there's still time to 'fix it first'

Crossposted from the Huffington Post.

Let’s look on the bright side of life.

By all accounts, you would be hard-pressed today to find anyone who views congressional inaction positively. But with the House of Representatives’ transportation package languishing amid opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress at least have added time to address the bill’s severe shortcomings.

Our country’s roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair, so crafting economically beneficial legislation with bipartisan support should be lawmakers’ top priority. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has already shown us what’s possible when business development and other interests meet, including language in the House bill that would spur development around transit stations and jumpstart real estate investment. With that kind of cooperative leadership as a model, the House would be wise to make the following revisions, showing voters that it’s the congressional branch with the capacity to get things done in an election year.

Making the most of limited transportation dollars: WYDOT does it right

State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the country face tightening budgets, and one DOT recently stepped up to make the most of the funds it has.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has positioned itself responsibly for the future. On November 16, the agency announced it will stop approving highway expansion projects and will focus resources toward repair of the state’s existing road system. This announcement comes just months after the publication of Repair Priorities, a report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, which made recommendations along these lines.

Smart growth news – October 5

EPA Programs Offer Communities Smart-Growth Solutions
Builder Magazine, October 4, 2011
The agency has put together a toolkit of proven techniques to help communities find smart-growth answers for challenges they face.

Area lawmakers want changes to state’s Smart Growth law
The Lakeland Times (Wis.), October 4, 2011
The state’s comprehensive planning law, also known as Smart Growth, has long been a thorn in the side of property rights advocates, even if stormier protests have subsided in recent years, but now several northern Wisconsin lawmakers are making another attempt to modify the statute.

Urban analysis
Boston Globe, October 3, 2011
What makes a location a good place to set up shop? Is it a nearby T station, or visibility on a busy corner? Is it better to be in the midst of a strip with lots of other stores, or within a 10-minute walk of many offices?

NPR on the importance of transit and road repair for job creation

With President Barack Obama looking to stimulate a stagnant economy and create jobs through infrastructure investments in the American Jobs Act, it’s important to look at the lessons we learned from the previous stimulus.

NPR’s Yuki Noguchi talked with Smart Growth America’s President and CEO Geoff Anderson to discuss the importance of transit and repair of existing infrastructure for a infrastructure stimulus to be effective.

After 55 years, it's time to invest in road preservation and repair

The Interstate Highway System turned 55 years old yesterday, and many roads across the country are showing their age. Crumbling concrete, cracks and potholes not only mean a rougher ride for America’s drivers – they pose a huge threat to the country’s transportation budget.

Repair costs rise as roads age, and deferring needed repairs means spending much more in the future. Research shows that spending $1 on repair today averts $6 to $14 of cost later, and at a time when public funding is already stretched tight the U.S. can’t afford to incur those future costs.

A new bill in the Senate would make upkeep of our roads and bridges a top national priority – and we need your help to see it through. Better investments in repair will benefit of the national budget, businesses that rely on freight and drivers everywhere.

Tell your Senators to support the Preservation and Renewal of Federal-Aid Highways Act: click here to take action.

In a report in early June, Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed that states expose themselves to huge financial liabilities by failing to adequately fund road repair and preservation. Despite this risk, many states continue to add to the road systems they are already struggling to maintain – and costs will only go up as roads age.

Smart growth news – June 20, 2011

S.D. gets high marks for spending priorities on roads
The Argus Leader (South Dakota), June 20, 2011
South Dakota received a thumbs up from a national study for having its priorities straight on road funding, but officials are concerned about how much Congress is going to spend in the future.
From 2004 to 2008, South Dakota spent 78 percent of its highway capital funds on road repair and maintenance – the highest such rate in the nation, according to a joint study by Transportation for America and Smart Growth America.

Senate Introduces Fix-It-First Bill to Save Crumbling U.S. Roads, June 17, 2011
Broadly speaking, the plan pushes for statewide implementation of the fix-it-first road spending strategy favored by the Obama administration. Brookings recently extolled the virtues of fix-it-first, and Smart Growth America found that road maintenance work produces more jobs than road building projects do.

Trending: Businesses Moving Downtown

The Rebirth of Downtown Las Vegas
News 8 Now (Las Vegas), June 16, 2011
Downtown Las Vegas is seeing a new crop of residents and businesses moving into its refurbished buildings. No move will be more important than Zappos in 2014. The online retail giant is proving to be a catalyst for new development and new residents. Downtown’s are the heart of most cities but downtown Las Vegas hasn’t had the best luck. As the Las Vegas Strip grew, many older casinos failed, businesses vacated and the homeless invaded. In 1994, that luck started to change when construction on the Fremont Street Experience began.

CFA to take over old Martha Jefferson building
The Daily Progress, June 16, 2011
There is a new tenant in line for the soon-to-be-vacant Martha Jefferson Hospital. CFA Institute, the global association for investment professionals based in Albemarle County, plans to spend $24.5 million to move its operations into the completely renovated Locust Avenue building in Spring 2013, company officials said Thursday.

Jones Soda relocating its headquarters
Associated Press via BusinessWeek, June 17, 2011
Jones Soda Co. is relocating its headquarters from Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood to a bigger office space in city’s Pioneer Square historical district…The headquarters will be housed on the entire first floor of the Palmer Court building, taking up 9,500 square feet. Jones Soda said Friday that the building is adjacent to Qwest Field and the Event Center, giving it the opportunity to take advantage of pedestrian traffic for sample taste tests.

Smart growth news, June 6, 2011

Could Focusing on Repairs Please Everyone?
National Journal, June 6, 2011
Smart Growth America may have provided one clue that could inch the committee down the yellow brick road. A report released last week found that between 2004 and 2008, states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on the repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction.

Report Lists How Much $ Each State Would Need To Maintain Roads
SRTC (Spokane Washington MPO) Transportation Blog, June 3, 2011
We’ve been talking for years about how decades of underinvestment in regular maintenance have left the nation’s roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing them is rising faster than we can address it. But just how bad is the situation? A report released this week by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states.

Study: State Spends Too Much On New Roads, Not Enough on Maintenance
PubliCola, June 1, 2011
According to a new study from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, US states, including Washington, spend far more on new road construction than they do on maintaining the roads they have—a situation Transportation Choices Coalition calls a “financial time bomb” as states build hundreds of miles of roads and highways they can’t afford to keep in safe working condition.

The Virtues of Investing in Transportation
New York Times Economix blog, June 3, 2011
In a time of budget austerity, the allocation of scarce federal dollars for infrastructure must be guided by cost-benefit analysis — rather than by earmarks and formula-based grants, as is currently the case. That’s why the Obama administration is calling for the use of performance criteria and “race to the top” competition among state and local governments to allocate federal spending among competing projects.

Jersey City Establishes ‘Complete Streets’ Policy
The Jersey City Independent, June 3, 2011
Jersey City paved the way for a more egalitarian use of the city’s transportation infrastructure by establishing a Complete Streets policy at the last City Council meeting, by a unanimous 9 to 0 vote. The policy, which calls for “roadways that enable safe and convenient access for all users,” represents the planning community’s rethinking of what — and whom — a road should be designed for.

According to Jay Corbalis, a policy analyst at New Jersey Future, a nonprofit organization that promotes smart growth, a Complete Streets policy is the “philosophy that when you build a road, you build it for all users.” He says Jersey City is a huge addition to the handful of municipalities that have embraced the policy.