Government Transportation Expenditures

Government Transportation Expenditures

Spending on building, maintaining, operating, and administering the nation’s transportation system by all levels of government totaled $167.5 billion in 2000 (in chained 2000 dollars1). The federal government spent 30 percent of the funds; state and local governments, 70 percent [1, 2] (figure 14-3).

Between 1990 and 2000, these transportation expenditures grew faster than total (federal, state, and local) government expenditures, increasing transportation’s share in the total from 4.8 percent to 6.0 percent. State and local government spending on transportation grew faster (at an average annual rate of 2.7 percent) than the federal government’s spending (at 1.9 percent). State and local governments also spent more on transportation, as a percentage of their total expenditures, than the federal government. In 2000, the respective shares were 8.1 percent and 2.8 percent [1, 2].

Among all modes of transportation, highways receive the largest amount of total government transportation funds. In 2000, this amounted to $104.0 billion and accounted for 62 percent of the total (figure 14-4). Transit and air modes accounted for 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively, while rail and pipeline modes accounted for less than 1 percent each. Between 1990 and 2000, government expenditures on highways, transit, and air transportation increased at about the same rate, leaving the overall modal distribution of government transportation expenditures almost unchanged [3].


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, State and Local Government Finances, available at, as of March 2004.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculations based on data from Executive Office of the President of the United States, Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the U.S. Government, Historical Tables, available at, as of March 2004.

3. _____. Government Transportation Financial Statistics 2002, forthcoming.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (which are available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.