About this project

How are states spending transportation construction dollars? Are states prioritizing creating new roads or maintaining their existing roadway network? Are states developing bicycle and pedestrian projects or building new transit lines? How do states’ investments in transportation projects compare to each other? In many states, basic answers to these questions are surprisingly hard to find.

The goal of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s 50-state analysis, Tracking State Transportation Dollars, was to begin to answer these questions so the public can better understand transportation priorities. To do this, TSTC analyzed each state’s statewide transportation improvement program (STIP), categorizing each project listed in the document into one of nine categories: new road capacity, bridge capacity expansion, road maintenance/minor widening, bridge maintenance/replacement, road or bridge project with bicycle/pedestrian components, bicycle/pedestrian, safety, transit and, for projects not falling into these categories, other. By categorizing the projects in each statewide transportation improvement program, TSTC was able to determine each state’s priorities. TSTC’s analysis also allows a comparison across the states as well as insight into transportation investment on a national level.

Why Track State Transportation Dollars? Billions of taxpayers dollars are spent every year on transportation in the United States. The national government provides significant resources for transportation projects, but the federalist system gives substantial decision making power about road, bridge, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects to state departments of transportation, governors, and state legislatures. Collectively, these decisions impact our country’s climate, our economy, what our neighborhoods look like, and what kind of world we are leaving for our children.

Making smart transportation choices that embrace values such as accessibility, equity and environmental sustainability will be even more important going forward. The economic recession has ravaged government, forcing policy makers at all levels to do more with less. The “baby boomer” population is aging, and more and more people, young and old, are choosing to live in cities. Energy prices are increasing and concerns over global warming and greenhouses gas emissions remain.

By showing every state’s planned near-term transportation investments, the Tracking State Transportation Dollars project attempts to bring to light transportation investment choices in each state. We hope this project adds to the conversation in each state, and allows the public to better engage in transportation debates and decision making going forward.

This website showcases TSTC’s findings. The site provides information about each state’s transportation spending across the multiple categories.

TSTC’s report offers recommendations to make statewide transportation improvement programs easier to understand, more transparent, and more uniform across the states. These recommendations are intended to help state transportation agencies be more accountable to the people who are affected each day by agencies’ decisions – the public. The recommendations are:

  • Increase accessibility of STIPs and create a DOT contact for all STIP questions
  • Require uniform information and project categories in all STIPS
  • Include descriptions and costs of project components in STIPs; and
  • Develop performance metrics for STIP projects

TSTC gratefully acknowledges the support of the following individuals and organizations.

The Rockefeller Foundation, Kate Slevin, Michelle Ernst, Linda Bailey, Jon Orcutt, Ya-Ting Liu, Richie Alicea, Rosanna Collars, Michael Lenore, 1,000 Friends of Oregon, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Alaska Transportation Policies Project, Arizona Department of Transportation, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Ben Ross, Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Conservation Alabama, Conservation Law Foundation, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Federal Highway Administration, GrowSmart Maine, Hawaii Department of Transportation, Idaho Smart Growth, Idaho Transportation Department, Illinois Department of Transportation, Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit, Iowa Department of Transportation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Maine Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council, Michigan Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Transportation, Montana Department of Transportation, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, New York State Department of Transportation, North Carolina Department of Transportation, North Dakota Department of Transportation, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, Ohio Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Peace Bridge Authority, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pete Hathaway, Policy Matters Ohio, South Carolina Department of Transportation, South Dakota Department of Transportation, Southern Environmental Law Center, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Public Interest Research Group, TransForm, Transportation Choices Coalition, Transportation for America, Utah Department of Transportation, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation, Wilmington Area Planning Council, Wyoming Department of Transportation