Government Transportation Investment

Government Transportation Investment

Gross government transportation investment,1 including infrastructure and vehicles, increased steadily over the last decade. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that total gross government transportation investment reached $88.8 billion in 2001, compared with $62.2 billion in 1991 (in chained 2000 dollars2), an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent3 (figure 10-5). Government transportation investment grew faster than did other government investments. As a result, the share of transportation in total government investment increased from 24 percent in 1991 to 27 percent in 2001 [1, 2]. However, the share of government transportation investment in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) changed little, remaining at almost 1 percent each year [2]. This indicates that funds allocated by government for improving and expanding transportation capital have been growing at the same pace as GDP.

State and local governments are the main investors in transportation infrastructure, but their relative role has decreased slightly over time. Direct federal infrastructure investment rose from $3.7 billion to $4.1 billion-an annual growth rate of 1.1 percent between 1991 and 2001. State and local investment in transportation infrastructure grew from $54.2 billion to $75.3 billion, an annual growth rate of 3.3 percent (figure 10-6).

Infrastructure accounted for up to 93 percent of the total government transportation investment between 1991 and 2001; over 73 percent of which was allocated to highways in 2001 (figure 10-7). The share of highway investment in total infrastructure investment has gone down somewhat since 1991 (76 percent), reflecting slight increases in other modes.


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Account tables, available at, as of June 2005.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, "Transportation Investment," forthcoming.

1Transportation investment is the purchase value of transportation equipment and the purchase or construction value of transportation facilities and structures, namely, roads, railways, airports, air traffic control facilities, water ports, pipelines, and so forth, that have a service life of longer than one year. The total purchase or construction value of new transportation capital in a year is gross investment. While investment increases the stock of transportation capital, the existing transportation capital stock depreciates or wears out over time. Therefore, gross investment minus depreciation provides net investment.

2 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. To eliminate the effects of inflation over time, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics converted current dollars (which are available in appendix B) to chained 2000 dollars.

3 Investment data here are in terms of calendar years unlike the other data in section 10, which are in terms of fiscal years.