Highway Bridge Program: Clearer Goals and Performance Measures Needed for a More Focused and Sustainable Program

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-1043, September 10, 2008

The August 1, 2007, collapse of a Minnesota bridge raised nationwide questions about bridge safety and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ability to prioritize resources for bridges. The Highway Bridge Program (HBP), the primary source of federal funding for bridges, provided over $4 billion to states in fiscal year 2007. This requested study examines (1) how the HBP addresses bridge conditions, (2) how states use HBP funds and select bridge projects for funding, (3) what data indicate about bridge conditions and the HBP’s impact, and (4) the extent to which the HBP aligns with principles GAO developed, based on prior work and federal laws and regulations, for re-examining surface transportation programs. GAO reviewed program documents; analyzed bridge data; and met with transportation officials in states that have high levels of HBP funding and large bridge inventories, including California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.

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