In the face of lower-than-expected funding under the federal transportation bills, as well as inflation that affects construction costs, the transportation infrastructure in the national parks is facing a large backlog of maintenance projects and equipment shortages.
- Backlog of Road Needs: In 2014, 60% of NPS road miles were judged as "good," 31% were judged "fair," and 9% were judged as "poor." As of September 30, 2014, the NPS Park Facility Management Division (PFMD) placed the deferred maintenance level for paved roads and structures at $5.63 billion dollars. Sound asset management—preserving the current road infrastructure—requires strategies that will improve the overall condition of roads to "good" and then maintain them at that condition.
- Backlog of Bridge Needs: In 2012, the NPS bridge inventory was still in "good" condition, with an industry standard Bridge Health Index of 0.92, though that places it on the border of a "fair" condition. However, the NPS bridge invetory is aging, and presents a "wave" of bridges built in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These bridges will require increasingly greater funds to maintain and reconstruct. Responsible asset management—protecting the NPS bridge inventory—requires strategies that identify and address structural deficiencies.
- Backlog of Vehicle Replacement Needs: Using vehicle ages reported by NPS transit systems, and standard replacement costs and service life assumptions, there is an estimated $1.4 million in overdue vehicle recapitalization costs for NPS-owned shuttle/bus/van/tram rolling stock. Each park unit is responsible for determining when a vehicle needs to be replaced; service life is highly dependent upon utilization, and not only the age of the vehicle.
- Backlog of Trail Needs: Approximately 36% of all trails throughout the National Park Service (6,700 miles out of a total of 18,600) are in a "poor" or "seriously deficient" condition, signaling the need for major repair and rehabilitation. As of September 30, 2014, the NPS Park Facility Management Division (PFMD) indicated the deferred maintenance on NPS trails at $472 million dollars.
Besides these maintenance and equipment backlogs, the NPS transportation program faces these additional challenges in pollution and safety issues.
- Safety and Accident Reduction: The crash rate in the National Park System is similar to the national rate. Over a 16-year period (1990-2005) there were 21,448 injury crashes, resulting in 32,894 injuries. Crashes in the park system cost society approximately $335 million annually. Improved data collection, combined with performance-based planning approaches, will allow the NPS to identify motor vehicle crash trends, improve prevention strategies, and implement safety counter-measure that increase safety on NPS transportation networks.