NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Libertarians: Hold On, Our Highways Aren't Crumbling Away

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Libertarians: Hold On, Our Highways Aren't Crumbling Away

By Bengt Halvorson

Deputy Editor

September 9th, 2010

Edmund Pettus BridgeEnlarge PhotoWe hear it in stump speeches all the time: that we need more infrastructure spending as our highways and bridges are crumbling away—or at the very least in urgent need of upgrades.

However a study from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian public policy group that also publishes Reason magazine, finds that state highway conditions "are the best they've been in 19 years."

The "19th Annual Highway Report," from 2008 data, finds that both rural primary roads and urban Interstates are the smoothest they've been since 1993. The explanation? In the recession, people are driving less, says the group, and that's helped slow pavement deterioration, allowed maintenance crews to keep up, and reduced congestion (and fatalities).

Nationally, note the report's authors, the percentage of urban Interstates that are considered congested fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2000. But in California, Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, and Connecticut, 65 percent of urban Interstates are congested.

The report's authors did take into account deficient bridges, though they didn't appear to lend priority to this issue, which some safety and transportation experts have called critical because of the number of bridges either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

About a quarter of the pavement used for urban Interstates is in poor condition, while Alaska and Rhode Island have the bumpiest rural pavement.

The group says that North Dakota, Montana, and Kansas have the most cost-effective highway systems, while Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii, and New York are the least cost-effective. New Jersey is the biggest spender, doling out $1.1 million per mile of state highway, while South Carolina spends just $34,000 per mile. California loses the most transportation funding ($93,464) to administrative costs.

On the Reason Foundation's most-improved list were Missouri (lower expenses but improved road conditions), Oregon (lower maintenance conditions though Interstate conditions worsened), and Mississippi (lower costs yet improved conditions). Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all spent more but road conditions either marginally improved or worsened.

LINK:

http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1049165_libertarians-hold-on-our-highways-arent-crumbling-away

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loki    289

yeah, in MO, there's a stretch of ~10 miles interstate that is 2 lane because they're totally redoing one side, when it's done it will ahve taken, oh, idk, 8-9 months maybe.

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Croc    268

This is absolute bunk. Our infrastructure IS crumbling, and highway bridges should be given very high priority. Just think this through logically: what happens if one bridge on the 10 fails in the middle of Louisiana. Oh wait, Katrina. Major disruption on cross-continental freight and passenger movements, and the detoured traffic on longer-distance routes only adds to the stress and deterioration of those other routes.

Just look around your own states...how many major routes have seen little in the way of upgrades since they were first built in the 1950s and 1960s? I can tell you with absolute certainty that very few were originally constructed with the thickness of concrete roadbed that is necessary for the number and weight of semitrailer traffic that uses the routes today. You can repave the asphalt all you want, but if the roadbed can't support what is demanded of it, you're just doing the equivalent of adding another coat of paint to conceal cracks in the foundation of your house.

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loki    289

and in fact, rated against other "1st world"* nations, our over all infrastructure got a D-

*I hate that term, but it is what it is.

isn't anything less than germany's transportation already a "B"*?

*I hate grades. they tell nothing specific.

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Drew Dowdell    4,999

I think the Swedes, Finish, and Dutch were right up there with Germany.

It wasn't just transportation though. Schools, water quality, utility reliability and other things are in the mix as well.

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I think the Swedes, Finish, and Dutch were right up there with Germany.

It wasn't just transportation though. Schools, water quality, utility reliability and other things are in the mix as well.

And the Swiss...as far as quality of life issues go, it's hard to beat certain Western European countries...

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balthazar    1,882

>>" New Jersey is the biggest spender, doling out $1.1 million per mile of state highway"<<

This bears out my comments in the thread where Dodgefan posted pics of MA bridges/roadways. Jersey roads are pretty good.

Prolly a necessity due to being the most densely-populated.

The one consistent exception (they've gotten better) being Princeton, where I theorize that heaved & cracked roadways is a cheap form of speed control.

The 'assurance' that the country's road are, on average, 'terrible' I don't find to be very credible.

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Drew Dowdell    4,999

>>" New Jersey is the biggest spender, doling out $1.1 million per mile of state highway"<<

This bears out my comments in the thread where Dodgefan posted pics of MA bridges/roadways. Jersey roads are pretty good.

Prolly a necessity due to being the most densely-populated.

The one consistent exception (they've gotten better) being Princeton, where I theorize that heaved & cracked roadways is a cheap form of speed control.

You're talking about that concrete section just before you get to Nassau Street coming from 295? It's been terrible for as long as I've been driving. And yes, I'm sure it's a form of speed control. They put speed humps large enough to span my Toronado's wheelbase in further up the road.

The 'assurance' that the country's road are, on average, 'terrible' I don't find to be very credible.

Some of the bridges might be a bit on the older and needing refurbishment side, but on the whole, I think county roads are pretty good in NJ.

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balthazar    1,882

The whole of Princeton used to be awful- Nassau, Washington, 206, the side streets- it's a bit better now. I used to curse the town when driving thru. You come down to Princeton on occasion, or was the memory of the roads that strong? ;)

>>'...I think county roads are pretty good in NJ."<<

COUNTRY- I don't believe that overall, the nation's roads & bridges are in 'dire' condition & crumbling everywhere. NJ, southern NY & eastern PA (talking outside of Philly) have all been, overall, very good. Been a while since I've been outside these areas, tho.

Like I stated in the MA roads thread mentioned above, there was a circa 1913 steel overpass in NY that got closed down circa 1995. It had a few spots of rot on the beams, but the bridge was overbuilt, even for today, and it could have been repaired. Instead it was replaced with a concrete monstrosity that must've cost a few million easy- money that could have maintained the steel one for decades.

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Drew Dowdell    4,999

My night for reading lessons I guess. :alcoholic:

I still come to Princeton. One of my oldest and closest friends still lives on Nassau. I'll probably be there again next month. I basically spent my teenage years around Princeton even though I grew up right off the Whitehorse Circle in Hamilton. (speaking of bad infrastructure... but that was more from design than age)

NJ as a whole has much better roads than PA. Pittsburgh area is HORRIBLE. I can't see how someone would even want to own a stiffly sprung sports car out here, they'd lose their teeth!

There are no less than 4 major bridge rebuild/replacement projects going on within a few miles of my house..... and one that needs to happen but hasn't been funded. One of the ones that is being replaced, I stopped driving over a couple years ago. It had gotten so bad that you could only crawl over at about 15 mph. It developed holes that they would just throw those metal plates over and hope they didn't shift.

Tell me if you've seen this one.... The one that needs to be replaced but hasn't been....they built a supplemental bridge under the existing bridge, to catch pieces that fall off the old bridge before they could hit the highway below. Yet the old bridge is still in service.

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SAmadei    224

NJ as a whole has much better roads than PA.

Agreed. PA is awful. Not just in pavement, but in sign and traffic light maintenance. I've sat at lights in PA where all the reds were burned out.

Tell me if you've seen this one.... The one that needs to be replaced but hasn't been....they built a supplemental bridge under the existing bridge, to catch pieces that fall off the old bridge before they could hit the highway below. Yet the old bridge is still in service.

NYC seems to to this a lot, even if the bridges don't go over a roadway. Last I saw the Manhattan Bridge, it had a secondary bridge under it to protect, well, everything under it. The F subway line overpass over the Gowanus is all wrapped to contain pieces falling off. Actually, a good deal of the Gowanus Expressway (part of I-278/BQE) has either netting or medal protective work... but granted, they are working on that disaster.

Of course, these are not self supporting, if thats what you mean.

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Tell me if you've seen this one.... The one that needs to be replaced but hasn't been....they built a supplemental bridge under the existing bridge, to catch pieces that fall off the old bridge before they could hit the highway below. Yet the old bridge is still in service.

IIRC, a few bridges along US Route 66 are in a similar situation, though they don't have another road underneath to worry about ... just bridges that are still in service that shouldn't be because funding just isn't there.

I think one of those, in Oklahoma, is in the process of being replaced. First, with a new bridge "off to the side", then, later, with the original bridge being replaced with a replica/refurbishment of sorts...

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