LAYTON -- A lot of work needs to be completed during the next 30 years for Utah's transportation system to stay viable.
But early projections show that the state will be billions of dollars short.
According to the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the state's transportation planning arm, $69 billion worth of needs have been identified for Utah's transportation system in the next 30 years.
There is $28 billion worth of work to be completed on road projects, including new roads, expansions and upgrades.
Another $8 billion is needed for the state's transit system, which includes new equipment and right-of-way acquisitions.
WFRC also predicts that during the next 30 years, $21 billion will be needed to maintain roads, and $12 billion will be needed to maintain the state's transit system.
Jory Johner, a WFRC engineer, said such things as gas taxes, local option sales taxes, and vehicle registration taxes should generate about $43 billion dollars in the same 30-year time span.
"That means there is about a $26 billion budget shortfall that needs to be addressed," Johner said. "So if we stay where we are at, we'll have poor roads, we'll have potholes, we'll have bridges that will be deteriorating. Things will be in bad shape."
WFRC spokesman Sam Klemm said that when looking ahead three decades, a shortage of money isn't all that unusual, but the amount this time is daunting.
"It's a really tough question to answer," Klemm said of how the state would make up a $26 billion difference between needs and projected revenue. "And (the state) really might not have an answer yet. It's one of those things where you have to wait and see what happens."
Klemm said Senate Bill 229, which the Legislature passed in 2011, should help the situation.
The bill, which took effect in July, takes up to 30 percent of the growth of certain sales tax money and puts it into a fund that can go toward transportation needs.
It can also be used as a rainy-day fund for other entities, if lawmakers choose.
Johner said that, on the bright side, the state's transportation system is currently functioning well.
"The good news is that our current system is working very well," he said. "But population growth and employment growth are going to put additional demands on the system."