Financial District: Fix it first
States receiving federal transportation funds should calculate and publicly report the 10-, 20- and 50-year maintenance costs of all new or improved infrastructure projects and demonstrate that such funds will be available over the lifespan of the infrastructure. Such requirements are commonplace in state applications for federal transit investments.
Measure performance the right way.
The federal government should establish performance measures connected to national goals that drive investment decisions, such as increasing the fraction of roads in good condition or reducing the number of vehicles traveling over structurally deficient bridges. States should report progress to the public annually.
Reward states for good performance on national objectives.
States already receive bond ratings for how well they act to meet future obligations to investors who buy their assets. By that same principle, the U.S. Department of Transportation could develop a system to rate states based on their progress, or lack thereof, on preventive maintenance, deferred maintenance, and resources dedicated to repair. States with unsatisfactory ratings would be prohibited from transferring funds out of federal repair programs for other purposes, and would risk losing their full federal funding over time.
States, too, should create “fix it first” policies.
Every state should adopt “fix it first” policies analogous to those in Maryland, New Jersey and Illinois, requiring state DOTs to focus on the rehabilitation of existing facilities before building new highways. v
* Editor’s note:
How PIRG describes itself
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety, political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights, where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.
How PIRG describes its Education Fund
With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their own narrow agendas, U.S. PIRG Education Fund offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer Americans meaningful opportunities for civic participation.
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