Crumbling Infrastructure? Really? Reason Study Says, No


#1

Examining 20 Years of U.S. Highway and Bridge Performance Trends

President Barack Obama’s new infrastructure plan calls for spending $40 billion on “urgent upgrades.” But a new Reason Foundation report examining 20 years of state highway data finds the condition of America’s state-controlled roads has improved in seven key areas including deficient bridges and pavement condition.

All 50 states lowered their highway fatality rates from 1989 to 2008 and 40 states reduced their percentages of deficient bridges during that time. Nationwide, the number of deficient bridges in the country fell from 37.8 percent of all bridges in 1989 to 23.7 percent in 2008.
Reason Foundation - Examining 20 Years of U.S. Highway and Bridge Performance Trends


#2

Without having read the study (and drawing some from recent experience), I’d say the situation is a mix of: 1.) reality, government building far more than it was willing to maintain (ribbon cuttings and new social programs get headlines; pot-holed road re-surfacings don’t); 2.) politicians’ demagoguery (the native language of that species!); 3.) ignoring progress (a standard lib/Prog activists’ tactic since the passing of the Civil Rights Act). Let me be clear: “progress” means there was a real need.

My family drove to KS in 2007, using I-80 to cross from CA into NV. I-80 is a main artery from central CA east. It was in horrible, shameful condition! I believe it was resurfaced a year or two later, but the pavement we drove over was probably decades old and at least a decade past the point where it should have been replaced. I drive US 101 about half the length of the SF Peninsula every workday, for the past 4 years. It was in similarly terrible shape until they started resurfacing sections of it a year ago - in some areas, as part of a project to steal a lane from the people whose gas tax $$ paid for it and turn it into an extra HOV lane or a toll ($$-grubbers!) express lane.


#3

The roads around me are pretty fantastic. Aside from areas being 2 lanes when they should be 4 is another issue. They have however been working on widening them and finishing the loop around the city. Been working on it for the last 2+ years and there’s still another 2 to go. It has severly f’ed my commute the entire time.


#4

You might note that California was near the bottom of the study, so it’s no so surprising I-80 might have sucked around California. Just my own observation from a trip about 10 years ago across Montana – Montana has some of the nicest freeways around, hands down.


#5

Having been in the industry of construction [ early on in highway construction as a dozer and barber Greene driver as well as general labor] I know how highways and bridges are built and not maintained by anybody until the roadbed crumbles. The state bears the culpability as well as the federal Highway department. There are places where the infrastructure can be upgraded but the state where the highway is in bears a lions share of the responsibility. Most bridges are not in that bad of shape.Obama is blowing entitlement smoke and making promises that are purely ludicrous.


#6

States like Montana, Minnesota and Wyoming don’t have summer, they have Road Maintenance season. I mentioned I-80 over the Sierras because it was about the worst stretch of major artery freeway I’ve seen. That part of the Sierras is one of the snowiest places on Earth (not a hyperbole) and the snow tires and snow chains are hard on the pavement. But this is not news, and CalTrans simply did (does?) not maintain it properly (gotta use that $$ for social programs and mass transit which people use as sparingly as possible!). THE major north-south artery through CA, as you know RwNj, is I-5, and the stretch between Redding and the OR border is pretty awful and in some places pretty scary. But it’s not as chewed up as I-80 was (is?).

CA has had Prog D Senators for decades, most of its Reps have been Ds for as long or longer, the legislature has been almost uninterruptedly D as long as I’ve been alive (or longer), and had D or Moderate/Mo-o-o-o-o-o-oderate R governors since the 50s, other than Reagan and Deukmejian, yet CA’s highways are among the worst in the US? That’s by conscious decision! Like I said, fiscal-social liberals (Ds and Moderate/Mo-o-o-o-o-o-oderate Rs) want government $$ poured into social programs and mass transit, not maintaining the highways that support commerce and bring people their food, clothes and other necessaries/wants.


#7

Yup.

Oh, yeah, I was over that stretch of I-5 last summer. I’m also thinking I-10 was rather horrible last summer.


#8

Haven’t driven I-10 or I-15 since 1983 or so (except possibly briefly on visits to The Mouse in the Land of LA), but I can easily believe it. And I-10 is another coast-to-coast corridor like I-80. CA has never recovered from the first Jerry Brown MALAdministration when freeways became CalTrans’ declared enemy (metaphorically, not sure whether there’s much hyperbole in that, though).


#9

The epitome of CA’s horrible highway policies? The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake revealed that the SF Bay Bridge (I-80, BTW) was seismically unsafe. This coming autumn, they will be doing the grand opening of the replacement bridge! And it’s billions of dollars over budget!


#10

I notice cities around here are doing ridiculous projects. Like building aa roundabout in the middle of nowhere, digging up road to plant bushes. Meanwhile roads in the Mexican areas go unpaved for decades.

The money is there, it is just spent where the good ole boys want it spent.


#11

[quote=“PeteS_in_CA, post:9, topic:38346”]
The epitome of CA’s horrible highway policies? The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake revealed that the SF Bay Bridge (I-80, BTW) was seismically unsafe. This coming autumn, they will be doing the grand opening of the replacement bridge! And it’s billions of dollars over budget!
[/quote]Gotta tell you, I just love California, from a distance.