Think Your Potholes Are Bad? 3 States With High Infrastructure Costs

No, but seriously. If you think your state is pouring in the big bucks to maintain upkeep on its roads, water, and airports, it’s worth getting some perspective from Bloomberg’s latest ranking. Paired with the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report cards, which examine the costs versus the ultimate safety functionality of various needs, the findings are rather discouraging. Not only are some states spending an awful lot on infrastructure, some are still showing major remaining issues. Let’s take a look at the top three and what policy looks like today for states looking for more funding.

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1. Texas

The state proves to have the largest infrastructure costs, at $6,957 million in total annual need, according to Bloomberg – the greatest portion of that being $4,636 million worth of road repairs. In terms of the total annual infrastructure needs per person, West Virginia would take the cake. Looking at total annual need projected and averaged between 2013 and 2017, the cost per person living in the state comes out to an annual total of $1,035 each, a considerably greater cost per person due to a population of 1.85 million versus Texas’s population of 26.45 million.

There are a number of very good reasons that Texas has such high comparative infrastructure costs. As of 2013, it ranks 13th in the nation with 830 miles of inland waterways and took on 451.8 million short tons of cargo in 2009, making it first in the nation in that area. It has 47 freight railroads that span 10,384 miles across Texas, making it first in the country based on mileage, while its 28.967 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy per year makes it fifth in the nation, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report card.

Unfortunately, being such a large state and having such enormous systems needing support, Texas has some major failings. In 2013, it had 915 high hazard dams, 50 sites on the National Priorities List for hazardous waste, and 2.6 percent of bridges structurally deficient, with 16.6 percent functionally obsolete.

2. North Carolina

North Carolina comes next on Bloomberg‘s list, with $3,959 million per year in road repairs, $502 million for safe drinking water needs, and $92 million in airport development needs for a total of $4,553 in annual needs. What’s especially concerning is that the authors of the public infrastructure report card are concerned that the state is becoming “increasingly vulnerable to risk,” according to the Triangle Business Journal.

In light of the recent bridge collapse in Washington state, Carolinians are asking themselves one question: How does our state stack up?” said Gary R. Taylor, chair of the 2013 Report for North Carolina’s infrastructure, per the Triangle Business Journal. “Regrettably, North Carolina’s infrastructure is not keeping pace with our state’s growing needs, hurting businesses and families along the way,” he said. The report itself also heavily emphasized North Carolina’s aviation costs and needs.

3. California

California actually has one of the lowest costs per individual per year, based on its yearly average of the 2013 through 2017 years, at $103 per person, higher only than New Jersey and Massachusetts. That said, its overall yearly infrastructure demands reach a pricey $3,940 million, comparatively about twice as much as a state like Ohio, and around eight times as much as South Dakota.

Included in that cost is the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco, at a cost of more than $7 billion total, spread out over a number of years. While that cost may seem enormous, it’s a price that could have been considerably higher if California had not made the decision to send much of the work overseas — a tradeoff in jobs versus cost. There were two different bids, according to Tony Anziano, manager of the California Department of Transportation, who spoke with NPR. “One proposing to do work domestically, one proposing to do the work internationally: There was a $400 million differential in that bid, and in that case it would have required the work to go international,” he said.

While California did receive $429.3 million from the Federal Highway Bridge Fund in 2011, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, that financing likely went largely to the 12 percent of California’s bridges that are labeled as structurally deficient, and the 16.8 percent that are functionally obsolete. The Bay Bridge could only be outsourced on the condition that federal money was not used.

Overall, infrastructure costs for states is a well-known and obvious expense, and one that has state governors working to find funds to allocate to much-needed places. One such state would be New Hampshire, with Gov. Maggie Hassan ready to sign a gas and diesel tax that would go into effect in July, and which would go toward roads and bridges in the state.

I look forward to signing this bipartisan legislation into law so we can keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward by advancing critical road and bridge projects and finishing the long overdue expansion of I-93,” Hassan said in a press release. Other states are considering similar measures or battling cuts in taxes that would decrease funding to infrastructure needs, such as in Massachusetts. “Gas tax revenue, by law, is dedicated solely to maintaining and improving our state’s transportation system,” said Kristina Egan, the director of transportation in Massachusetts, according to The Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Michigan also is facing difficulties amassing the necessary budget for roads, with Gov. Rick Snyder speaking enthusiastically of a Republican House quote of $500 million for roads per year, but noting that it’s not quite up to his spending goals. “I’d still like to get to $1.2 billion of additional revenue,” he said in a phone interview with the Associated Press.

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