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Bump, jolt: nation’s highways grow worse as funds dry up

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If you travel with any frequency outside your hometown and immediate area, you know too well the execrable condition of roads and bridges: potholes galore, patches on top of patches, and constant jolting from bucked-up expansion joints. Resurfacing, if any, is piecemeal. Reconstruction: well, forget that.

Awful. Horrible. Disgraceful. Those are only a few of the terms used to describe the deplorable state of today’s highways. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better — if it gets better.

If you travel with any frequency outside your hometown and immediate area, you know too well the execrable condition of roads and bridges: potholes galore, patches on top of patches, and constant jolting from bucked-up expansion joints. Resurfacing, if any, is piecemeal. Reconstruction: well, forget that. Often as not, major interstate highways are among the worst.

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Talk with DOT people in any state and they tell the same story: fewer dollars for road/bridge construction and maintenance from the federal Highway Trust Fund, which has been teetering on bankruptcy; and fewer dollars from federal/state gasoline taxes because of (1) a continuing drop in the increase of yearly vehicle miles being driven, (2) a dramatic increase in the fuel efficiency of today’s cars and trucks, (3) state gasoline taxes that, in most cases, have changed little or none in a decade or more, and (4), skyrocketing costs of new road construction and materials/labor for maintenance of existing roads/bridges.

In a nutshell, the need is constantly going up and the funding to meet those needs is increasingly inadequate, all made worse by years of only stopgap measures in dealing with a crumbling infrastructure.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Aug 6, 2014

My generation was spoiled by the birth of our national interstate system under Eisenhower. Why weren't infrastructure bills priorities 10 years ago? Hummers, big-tire pickups and Range Rovers are starting to look better...but who can afford them?

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