Chart of the Day: Federal Highway Trust Fund Projections

Here’s another one from the Pew Charitable Trusts report, showing projected outlays, shortfalls, and income for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which is the federal dollars that build (and sometimes maybe maintain) our high-end roads:



Make of it what you will. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.


7 Responses to Chart of the Day: Federal Highway Trust Fund Projections

  1. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele October 3, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Would it really be the end of the world if the federal government was no longer able to fund regressive road projects and greenwashed transit projects? It would likely be a good thing – we’d have more local determination of investment, local self reliance, and local values informing our choices.

    • Nathaniel October 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

      It wouldn’t be the end of the world. It’d resemble the Australian system, by which it is dictated by the States. However, they have much more flexibility on how and where they raise funds. Herein lies the dilemma, how will local government / state raise funds? Our local governments have their hands tied (primarily relying on property taxation).

    • Alex Cecchini
      Alex Cecchini October 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      I’m very much behind this, but I think we should be 100% honest about the situation at hand..

      We have a state government and DOT that continues to build $700m bridges to the sprawliest areas in the metro to serve 10k AADT with no tolls. They’re hellbent on building more road capacity via Corridors of Commerce when we cannot afford what we have.

      One level down in the Twin Cities, we have a Met Council that will in all likelihood continue to subsidize suburban development by spending hundreds of millions to bring water our to NE suburbs from the river instead of putting a better price on the water or saying “no.” This same body is beholden to many counties that scream equity, giving us the transit investments that we’ve got planned.

      Another level down, we’ve got Hennepin County with its transportation headquarters in cornfields (100% auto commute mode share?), with resulting “street” designs in core cities that clearly prioritize suburban commuters’ final mile over the comfort and safety of peds/cyclists and certainly transit operations.

      I won’t comment further, but I’m not exactly confident that if every penny we sent to the federal gov’t was instead built in to our own gas tax that we’d see huge improvement over the outcomes we have now. Certainly some dumb federal rules could be avoided (ex. no tolling existing urban freeway lanes), but we put just as many dumb ones in ourselves (ex. moratoriums on Dan Patch Lines). Thoughts?

      • John October 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        The real “problem” is the response by government is generally speaking a reflection of what people want. MnDOT is pressured by elected officials to expand roads in Greater MN, they don’t do it, the legislature passes Corridors of Commerce legislation. Met Council is pressured by its elected officials who represent the people they are serving. Ultimately, not much will change unless the general population (not just bloggers and advocates) accepts moving away from highway capacity as the answer.

        I-494 is being expanded by a lane. If you ask a random person about it, they will either say that’s nice or about time. We are a loud minority.

        • Matt Steele
          Matt Steele October 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

          The whole system will come crashing down sooner or later. It doesn’t matter what people like or don’t like if we can’t afford it. The bills for our infrastructure will come due, and we won’t know how to pay. Our hand will be forced. Our current path just cannot sustain.

    • Monte Castleman October 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

      The immediate effect would not be great. Mn/DOT benefits a little from the trust fund,
      With a ratio of 1.058 it gets out just about as much as it puts in. And in the post-earmark era it’s already decided locally what projects to fund, We asked for funding for the St. Croix Crossing (which the opponents always seem to round down the traffic counts from 17,200 to 10,000 and round up the costs from (currently estimated at $581.9-$646.9 million) to $700 million or even a billion dollars), the feds didn’t hand us the check and order us to build a bridge.

      The bigger problem is in Minnesota we benefit from the interstate highways through say South Dakota (ratio 1.915), whether it’s a family trip to Mount Rushmore or eating California oranges. Without a subsidy the lighter populated states wouldn’t be able to maintain their stretches of interstates.

      • Matt Steele
        Matt Steele October 4, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

        They would be able to maintain them if they had a gas tax and likely tolls which covered the full cost.

Note on Comments welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on!