NACo report shines light on U.S. transportation funding challenges, role of counties

Washington, D.C. — Federal and state funding and financing for county-owned transportation infrastructure is increasingly inadequate, according to a new report released by the National Association of Counties (NACo). The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing provides an analysis of county transportation funding sources, challenges and solutions across the 48 states with county governments. 

The report focuses on roads and bridges owned and maintained by the nation’s counties and provides three case studies that allow a more in-depth view of the issues facing counties in funding safe and reliable transportation systems.

Counties invest $106.3 billion in public facilities and infrastructure each year and are responsible for building and maintaining 45 percent of the public roads, 230,690 bridges and are involved in a third of the nation’s transit and airport systems that connect residents, businesses and communities.

The Executive Summary is available at www.naco.org/research/Documents/EXECUTIVE_SUMM_RoadAhead.pdf. Download the full report at www.naco.org/newsroom/pubs/Documents/NACo_Road_Ahead_02.24.2014.pdf. Web interactive maps with state profiles are available at www.uscounties.org/county-transportation-funding/. Double click on any state for a customized summary with key funding, finance and ownership data for counties

“The U.S. transportation system is the ‘circulatory’ system of the U.S. economy that requires a cohesive resolution for a strengthening economic recovery on the ground,” said Emilia Istrate, NACo’s director of research and lead author of the report. “The ideal is a transportation system that helps the U.S. compete globally, saving businesses and citizens time and money by reducing traffic congestion and helping American communities grow economically and restore their quality of life.”

The report suggests that the impending expiration of the federal surface transportation funding law, MAP-21, presents an opportunity for counties to discuss their role in the national transportation network. The report shows that:

• the federal and state funding for county transportation projects is increasingly inadequate

• counties face the dilemma of rising costs of transportation projects, increasing traffic volumes and limitations on their ability to generate revenue and

• counties have adopted additional funding and financing mechanisms, but they are not sufficient to cover the needs of their economies and residents.

The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing has a companion data tool the Road Ahead interactive and individual state profiles at www.naco.org/countytransportation.


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