The United States spends about $160 billion annually on highways, with about one-fourth of that total coming from the federal government. Federal highway spending is funded mainly through gas and other fuel taxes that are paid into the Highway Trust Fund. In recent years, however, the amount of money Congress has spent out of the general fund has exceeded the dedicated trust funds set aside for highway spending, says Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
De Rugy sets straight some myths about transportation spending.
Myth One: Highways and roads pay for themselves thanks to gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists.
Myth Two: Proceeds from the federal gas tax are used to build and maintain the Interstate highway system.
Myth Three: Increased spending on public transit will boost ridership.