This book provides an overview of the federal role in surface transportation and the goals and structures of federal programs. Since federal financing for the interstate system was established in 1956, the federal role in surface transportation has expanded to include broader goals, more programs, and a variety of program structures. The nation has reached a critical juncture with its current surface transportation policies and programs. Demand has outpaced the capacity of the system, resulting in increased congestion. In addition, without significant changes in funding levels or planned spending, the Highway Trust Fund -- the major source of federal highway and transit funding - is projected to incur significant deficits in the years ahead. Exacerbating concerns about the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund is the federal government's bleak fiscal condition and outlook. As a result, other federal revenue sources may not be available to help solve the nation's current transportation challenges.
Given the scope of needed transformation, it may be necessary to shift policies and programs incrementally or on a pilot basis to gain practical lessons for a coherent, sustainable, and effective national program and financing structure to best serve the nation for the 21st century.