The Kansas City Star
Feb. 2, 2013
Oil-rich Texas has built more highways and bridges than any other state, but over the next two decades it will fall $170 billion short of what it needs to keep the sprawling network in good repair.
California transportation officials estimate that 60 percent of the state’s roads and a quarter of its bridges need repairing or replacing, at a projected cost of $70 billion over a decade, some $52 billion more than the available funds.
Over seven years, Kansas went from spending three times as much on highway upkeep as it did on building new roads to devoting four times as much money for construction as for maintenance. Missouri, meanwhile, shifted its spending heavily toward repairs but saw its outstanding bond debt quadruple.
America’s highway system, once a symbol of freedom and mobility envied the world over, is crumbling physically and financially, the potentially disastrous consequence of a politically driven road-building binge...
Some budget watchdogs were encouraged about the most recent federal transportation bill, which Congress approved last summer. It pushes states to develop performance standards for federal highway spending that result in the greatest improvement to roads and bridges.
It’s too soon to know whether the measures will have any impact, and the legislation expires at the end of next year. Meanwhile, states face tough choices. Emil Frankel, who was assistant secretary for transportation policy under President George W. Bush and is a former Connecticut transportation commissioner, said the country needs to establish priorities.
“Thirty years ago, ‘like it’ might have been good enough,” said Frankel, who is now a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a research center in Washington. “We can’t afford to do that anymore.”
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National Transportation Policy Project