Just a crazy idea, I know: But do you think Congress could pass a bill to help the states fix potholes in federal highways, make the thousands of decrepit bridges, safe, and put a few thousands of people to work?
ONLY the drunk, they say, drive in a straight line in Chicago. The sober zigzag to avoid falling into the city’s axle-breaking potholes. This year the craters, caused by continual freezing and thawing, are worse than ever, and the spring thaw has brought three times the usual number of complaints from citizens.
As winter retreats, holes in roads and budgets are being revealed—especially in midwestern states, which were hit hard by the polar vortex. Those states with money have made emergency appropriations for repairs; those without will have to cut summer programmes. This means not mowing the grass in parks or picking up litter. It also means delaying resurfacing of highways or fixing guard rails, and putting off capital spending.
Looking after America’s roads is a persistent headache. Although $91 billion is spent on them every year, that is nowhere near enough to keep the country’s 4.1m miles (6.6m km) of public roadways in good nick. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment is needed every year. Last year a report from a civil-engineering group said that 32% of America’s major roads were in poor or mediocre condition. Main roads through cities were in worst shape: almost half the miles travelled over urban interstates in 2013 were a bumpy ride. Ray LaHood, a former transport secretary, thinks the roads are probably in the worst shape they have ever been.
Is it too big a stretch to go back to the hopes in 2009, that we might get a jobs bill to fix this stuff? Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.
- The Atlantic: “The infrastructure cliff: Why the U.S. desperately needs a $2.5 trillion upgrade”
- American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card
- Northeast Corridor Commission, Critical Infrastructure Needs
- America’s crumbling infrastructure desperately needs funding,” Patrick J. Natale, Al Jazeera