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Census will inform how and where billions of dollars will be spent for next decade

Posted Jan. 2, 2020

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vehicles on the interstate
In addition to federal programs, Census Bureau population statistics inform how states spend their own funds on transportation infrastructure.

Next time you’re on your morning commute, merging on to a freeway or crossing a bridge, think of the decennial census.

Your responses to the 2020 Census, which includes every person living in the United States, may help decide when and where roads and bridges will be built in Fort Worth.

Billions of dollars in federal funds (more than $675 billion) are spent annually on critical transportation services in communities across the country, including maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. The decennial census count will inform spending decisions for the next decade.

Among the federal programs tied to census statistics are the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Highway Planning and Construction program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Community Development Block Grants.

The impact of just these two programs is staggering.

In 2015 alone, DOT distributed more than $38 billion through the Highway Planning and Construction program, the fourth largest amount of federal assistance informed by census statistics that year.

The annual HUD grants also provide billions in discretionary funding that local governments can choose to use to improve their infrastructure.

Both programs support construction and maintenance of the country’s 4.1 million miles of public roads, which the American Society of Civil Engineers has said are in such poor shape that they earned a “D” in its 2017 nationwide Infrastructure Report Card.

View a video to understand how 2020 Census data will be used.

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