The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report (GAO-08-400) on the state of federal surface transportation programs. The report dealt with both the effectiveness of programs and the sustainability of present funding schemes.
GAO found that, as federal involvement in highways has grown since the 1950s, the government has produced a hodge-podge of programs with vague goals and uncertain federal roles that are sometimes contradictory (the agency put it somewhat more gently than that). The result is programs that don’t effectively address current issues like congestion and heavy freight traffic. They recommend that Congress undertake creating more clear definitions of the role of federal transportation agencies, desired results of programs, and outcomes expected from recipients of federal aid.
GAO also addressed projected shortfalls in federal transportation trust funds. Deficits in some of these funds may begin as early as next year for the major federal highway fund. (Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report on this shortfall.)