Failure to Act: Current Investment Trends in our Surface Transportation Infrastructure

For the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), EBP (formerly EDR Group) developed a report about the effect that transportation deficiencies have, and will continue to have, on U.S. economic performance. The 2020 report updates a study conducted by EBP (then EDR Group) in 2011.

The analysis quantifies the existing gap between what we are spending on bridges, roads, and transit systems, and what we need to be investing in to improve efficiency and reliability and to get the systems to a state of good repair. The analysis of highways addresses mounting urban congestion and identifies rehabilitation needs where pavement conditions can transition from good to fair and poor as one moves off the Interstate system. The review of transit systems addresses increasing passenger delays associated with service interruptions and costs due to and aging vehicles and facilities. The analysis is extended through 2039 to explore how underinvestment stands to impact everything from household income to the health and global competitiveness of the U.S. industries.

This report utilizes the University of Maryland’s LIFT national macroeconomic model of the U.S. economy to arrive at the long-term economic impacts of underinvesting in our transportation infrastructure. The analysis relies on baseline data that predates the COVID-19 pandemic. Data sets and economic models generally lag one to three years behind the present, to allow for data collection, validation, and publication. As a result, economic modeling does not yet account for COVID-19 impacts. Also unknown is the extent and permanence of pandemic-related changes to commuting trends and travel behavior, goods movement, and the long-term impacts to user-based transportation revenue streams.

Failure to Act is structured around five reports that assess implications for the productivity of industries, national competitiveness, and effects on households given the present trends of infrastructure investment. Together these reports review nine of the 15 categories addressed by the ASCE Report Card.

This report covers Surface Transportation, encompassing highways, bridges, rail and transit. Other Failure to Act reports address: Water, Wastewater & Stormwater Delivery and Treatment; Energy Transmission; Airports and Marine Ports/Inland Waterways.