Inmost Northeast and Midwest cities the past winter has left roadsand bridges a pockmarked mess of ruts and crevices… Crews couldn'tkeep up with all the potholes they needed to fill and now stop gap asphalt plugs are crumbling apart as summer quicklyapproaches. State and local budgets also cannot make duewithout help from Washington—the federal Highway Trust Fundcontinues to provide insufficient revenues since Congress refusesto raise the gas tax, which supports this primary wellspring forfunding local transportation infrastructure. The tax hasn't beenincreased since 1993 and hasn't been supplemented by any othermeaningful source of public works budgeting as costs and needs havespiraled for repairing ageing roads as well as funding newinfrastructure including mass transit.

|

Increasingly states enter into various formsof highly-touted public private partnerships (PPPs) to build arelative handful of new road and bridge projects, funded inevitablyeither by tolls, fees or yes higher state and local (sales, income,gas) taxes to meet debt service on bonds or other financingschemes, which will extend well into the future. But these PPPstypically do not address the ongoing and increasingly dauntingmaintenance needs for existing systems. Many highways built in thepost World War II era across the country now require significantoverhauls—not just pavement patching.

|

So that gets us back to our potholed roads,which not only wreak havoc on wheels, axels, and undercarriages,but also present real safety concerns to drivers. And the situationworsens incrementally year over year, augmenting congestion andincreasing the chances for road closures and major disruptions.

|

Car repair bills, lost time in traffic,delivery delays, added transport expenses, and injuries all exact ahuge toll on individual budgets as well as slowly choking regionaleconomies, particularly in important gateway centers where businesscongregates.

|

Since our duly elected Congress will neitherpass new spending bills without offsets nor raise taxes or userfees, game-changing initiatives languish to stem the deterioration.A country that 60 years ago constructed a state of the artinterstate network now watches it disintegrate in slow motion.

|

Beyond the interstates and major highways,monitor the increasingly sad-sack condition of secondary andtertiary roads in your area as states play triage with dwindlingpots of money allocated to local infrastructure. Suburbs will beincreasingly hard hit without the once generous federal subsidieswhich helped literally pave the way for subdivision development ageneration or two ago. The burden is pushed down to localgovernments which must raise taxes and fees in the face ofconsiderable taxpayer resistance or suffer the consequences ofsubstandard roads, including lower property values and tax base.

|

Simply, we get what we pay (or don't) for.

|

So lacking a willingness to shell out highertaxes, we suffer all the hidden costs, which inevitably make uspoorer.

|

And meanwhile, forget about any initiatives tobuild 21st Century systems like regional high-speed railor state-of-the-art airports like you see overseas.

|

Our decline continues unchecked for now… andit is thanks to us.

|

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.