Reports and Studies

Links to important Transportation Finance reports and studies.


Alternative Approaches to Funding Highways

In Alternative Approaches to Funding Highways, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzes the effects of alternative approaches to funding highways. In particular, it compares the effects of current fuel taxes and of possible new taxes on the number of miles highway users drive. Some costs of highway use, such as those associated with emissions of greenhouse gases and the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, are directly related to fuel consumption. But the larger share of costs—for pavement damage, congestion, accidents, and noise—is more directly tied to the number of miles traveled. Therefore, having users pay the actual cost of their highway use would involve imposing a combination of fuel taxes and per-mile charges. Although such an approach would lead to more efficient use of highways, it would distribute the burden of highway funding somewhat differently than would fuel taxes alone. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this study does not make any recommendations.


2011 Statewide Transportation System Needs Assessment

​The Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment, prepared for the California Transportation Commission, details what is needed for California’s transportation system and how to pay for it. The overall goal of the Needs Assessment is to develop a coordinated list of transportation projects and programs, and to identify related funding requirements that will allow local, state, and regional transportation agencies in California to present a consistent message when communicating statewide needs for preserving, expanding, maintaining, and operating the state’s transportation system. The report is designed to address the needs of the statewide transportation system for the next ten years (2011 to 2020).


Highway Trust Fund: Pilot Program Could Help Determine the Viability of Mileage Fees for Certain Vehicles

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s Highway Trust Fund: Pilot Program Could Help Determine the Viability of Mileage Fees for Certain Vehicles report notes that federal funding to build and maintain the nation’s highways and bridges comes primarily from highway users through federal fuel taxes. These revenues have eroded due to improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and other factors contributing to shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund. Experts have proposed alternative means of raising revenues by charging drivers fees based on their miles traveled. Several states have tested systems that gather vehicle mileage and location data, which has raised privacy concerns. GAO examined (1) the benefits and challenges of mileage fee initiatives in the United States and other selected nations, (2) mileage fee rates necessary to replace and supplement current Highway Trust Fund revenues and the effect these fees would have on users’ costs, and (3) state DOTs’ views on future revenue demands and mileage fees. GAO reviewed five domestic pilot projects and programs in Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands; modeled mileage fees for passenger vehicles and commercial trucks; and surveyed 51 state DOTs.


Paying Our Way: A New Framework for Transportation Finance

SAFETEA-LU established the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission (Financing Commission) and charged it with analyzing future highway and transit needs and the finances of the Highway Trust Fund and making recommendations regarding alternative approaches to financing transportation infrastructure. The Financing Commission’s final report, Paying Our Way: A New Framework for Transportation Finance, offers a roadmap for sweeping reform of the nation’s transportation infrastructure funding and finance framework. The Financing Commission offers specific recommendations for increasing investment in transportation infrastructure while at the same time moving the Federal Government away from reliance on motor fuel taxes toward more direct fees charged to transportation infrastructure users.


Transportation Funding in California

Transportation Funding in California, prepared by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), includes charts prepared as visual aids to show the sources and distribution of transportation funds in California. The dollar amounts, when readily available, show the relative magnitudes of different programs. They are not necessarily official figures and are subject to change. The amounts were obtained from different sources which may not always be consistent.


Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission

Calling for a “new beginning” to reform the nation’s transportation programs, the bipartisan National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission’s final report, Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, is a comprehensive plan to increase investment, expand services, repair infrastructure, demand accountability, and refocus Federal transportation programs, while maintaining a strong Federal role in surface transportation. Policy changes, though necessary, will not be enough on their own to produce the transportation system the Nation needs in the 21st century. Significant new funding also will be needed.