Federal, State Governments Need to Reprioritize Transportation Funding, Report Finds

Transportation departments nationwide must consider driving trends when investing in major projects, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group education fund recommended in a report identifying nearly a dozen instances of what it claims to be wasteful spending.

Released this week, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future” highlights 11 proposed projects the group claims will be under-utilized. The group based its assessment on driving forecasts that point to a decline of drivers in the coming years.

Examples included the Illiana Expressway in Illinois and Indiana that would cost about $1.3 billion to $2.8 billion, the Dallas Trinity Parkway in Texas that has a price tag of $1.5 billion, and the double-decking Interstate 94 in Milwaukee. For that project, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is looking to rebuild an existing highway as an eight-lane double-decker route through a narrow channel among three cemeteries for $1.2 billion.

“These highway expansions are slated to receive $13 billion in taxpayer support,” said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at U.S. PIRG and the report’s co-author. “The time has come to shift our resources to invest in 21st-century priorities, like fixing our roads and bridges and providing more Americans with a wider range of transportation choices.”

The report calls on transportation leaders to focus their priorities on mass transit, new ways to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour and road pricing tools.