Friday, August 23, 2013

U.S. roads, bridges are decaying despite stimulus influx

Gary Stoller, USA TODAY
NEW FAIRFIELD, CONN. - As car after car is jolted by cracked asphalt on a less-than-1-mile stretch of road connecting Route 39 to the New York border, it becomes clear why state transportation officials grade the pavement of this winding western Connecticut road as being in poor condition.
Edges of the two-lane road - where a sign says Col. Henry Ludington passed by in 1777 to repel "British raiders" - are worn and recessed, allowing rainwater to pool.
Connecticut has the nation's second-highest percentage of major roads - 48%, or 1,268 miles - with pavement in "poor" condition, and 25 other states have 20% or more in such condition, according to an exclusive analysis of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) most recent data by transportation research group TRIP and USA TODAY.
Indeed, just 38% of the pavement on roads stretching miles across the USA is in "good" condition, according to the analysis, while about one in 10 of the nation's bridges are "structurally deficient."
Roads with pavement in poor condition have "advanced deterioration" and typically require structural repair or replacement, according to the FHWA. Such roads, TRIP says, may have ruts, cracks and potholes that give millions of Americans rough rides that increase repair costs and fuel consumption.
The analysis concludes that the nation's roadways - critical for moving people, goods and services - are in disrepair, and even states with mostly "good" roads have stretches of pavement, as well as bridges, that are in dire need of upgrades.
State, federal and local funding levels for road and bridge improvements are not adequate to meet the nation's growing needs. About $85 billion is required annually to improve the condition of roads and bridges - nearly double what was spent in 2008, according to the Department of Transportation's 2010 report to Congress.
And drivers across the USA are paying the price.

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