The nation’s investment in the highway system has doubled
the past 20 years, with states and localities contributing more than the
federal investment, GAO reported in an August. 2004 report.
Between 1982 and 2002, state and local capital investment
increased 150 percent from $15.5 billion to $30.7 billion. Sen. Harry Reid,
D-NV, the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and
Infrastructure, requested the report, “Federal Aid Highways – Trends, Effect on
State Spending, and Options for Future Program Design.”
The report described the downside to this funding trend.
“The preponderance of evidence suggests that federal aid
highway grants have influenced state and local governments to substitute
federal funds for state and local funds that otherwise would have been spent on
highways,” the report said.
GAO added that this “substitution trend” may be limiting the
effectiveness of Congressional strategies to meet the federal aid highway
The agency suggested some possible solutions: Increasing the
required state match; rewarding states that increase their spending; and
requiring states to maintain investment levels over time that could help reduce