Report identifies $30B of wasteful highway projects
A new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group identifies nine wasteful highway expansion projects across the country, slated collectively to cost at least $30 billion.
The report details how most highway expansions fail to solve congestion, saddle states with crippling debt, and take money away from more pressing transportation needs, including road, bridge and public transit repairs. Tax dollars allocated for transportation projects are scarce across the country, yet federal, state, and local governments spent $27.2 billion expanding highways in 2012, even as the transportation system had about a $500 billion backlog of road and bridge repair needs, and a $90 billion backlog of transit repair needs.
One of the projects included in the report is the expansion of I-94 outside of Milwaukee. That project is projected to cost Wisconsin anywhere from $1.7 to $1.9 billion, while more than 70% of the state’s existing roads are in poor or mediocre condition, tied for second-worst in the country. While the I-94 expansion moves forward, those repair needs go unmet.
From 2008 to 2015, state highway debt more than doubled to $217 billion,” said Gideon Weissman, a Frontier Group analyst and report co-author, in a release. “We keep building new highways we don’t need, and that hurts our ability to move toward a smart 21st-century transportation system that works for all of us.