The National Park Service Transportation Program is responsible for maintaining approximately 5,500 miles of paved roads, 4,100 miles of graveled roads, and 1,414 bridges, and 63 tunnels, all spread across currently 382 park units. The paved roads alone would stretch the distance between Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, Calif. Altogether, the roads, bridges, and tunnels represent a Federal investment in excess of $20 billon dollars.
In the face of lower-than-expected funding under the current transportation legislation, along with chronic inflation that continues to impact construction costs, road conditions In the National Parks have not been stabilized. As outlined below, the Park Service faces a large backlog in maintenance projects.
The NPS Transportation Program's goal is to prepare the National Park System transportation facilities for the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service by bringing all facilities up to an acceptable condition.
Roads: As of 2010 assessment reports, some 90% of all roadway pavements in the National Parks are in "fair" to "poor" condition. Sound asset management, which means preserving the current road infrastructure, requires strategies that will improve the overall condition of roads to "good" and then maintain them at that condition.
Bridges: As of 2010 assessment reports, 28 publicly accessible bridges located within National Park Service properties are considered "structurally deficient" and are in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction. Protecting the NPS bridge inventory requires strategies that identify and address these structural deficiencies.
Preventive Treatments: To maintain the roads and bridges now listed in "good" condition—and successfully protect NPS transportation investments—the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) must implement an aggressive preventive maintenance program. This would extend the life of these facilities, and ultimately save substantial dollars by avoiding full reconstruction costs. A dollar spent on preventive maintenance can save $3-$5 in the future, so a lack of annual investment in preventative maintenance will only cost more in the long term.
Federal Highway pavement and bridge engineers have completed scientific analyses and have identified an investment need of $680 million annually to address the backlog of road and bridge projects. This would include $644 million annually for roads, and $36 million annually for bridges. The rehabilitation and reconstruction of significant roads, such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Loop Roads in Yellowstone National Park, are included at this funding level.