In the face of lower-than-expected funding under the federal transportation bills, as well as chronic inflation which is affecting construction costs, the transportation infrastructure in the national parks is facing a large backlog of maintenance projects and equipment shortages. These include:
- Backlog of Road Needs: Some 90% of all roadway pavement in the parks system is in "fair" to "poor" condition. 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: 28 publicly accessible bridges within the parks transportation system are "structurally deficient" and are in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction. Responsible asset management-protecting the NPS bridge inventory-requires strategies that identify and address structural deficiencies.
- Backlog of Vehicle Replacement Needs: In 2002, over 80% of the NPS-owned fleet vehicles were more than 12 years old. Despite having since upgraded aging vehicles in 7 park units, 9 park proposals for immediate replacement of 39 vehicles totaling $9.8 million remain unfunded (including replacement of systems like Tourmobile in the Nation's Capital). Future vehicle replacement needs across the agency, on a cyclic replacement pattern, is estimated to consist of over 160 vehicles (based on current NPS owned/contracted systems) at an average annualized cost of $5.5 million each year. To meet needs for future or expanded systems and additional vehicles, approximately $7 million per year would be needed.
- 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.
Besides these maintenance and equipment backlogs, the NPS transportation program faces these additional challenges in pollution and safety issues:
- Reduction in Air, Noise, and Visual Pollution: Since 2005, the number of national parks in regional air quality non-attainment areas has more than doubled; 128 parks now are in non-attainment areas, where air pollution levels regularly exceed the national ambient air quality standards. The NPS is committed to being a leader in strategies and technologies that can help reduce air and noise pollution in and around parks.
- Safety and Accident Reduction: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) analysis shows that $107 million or more in injury and property costs from accidents are incurred annually. NPS is working with FHWA to ensure the safety of the traveling public by implementing a systematic and data-driven approach to safety management in the parks, maximizing the efficiency of scarce financial resources.