Planning the next all-American summer road trip? You might want to look away, because the 2013 infrastructure report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers is likely to convince you to take a rain check.
Here are 5 scary realities the ASCE found when surveying the road infrastructure in the U.S.:
1. Bridge to nowhere
If you are one of those people who get criticized for squinting their eyes a little every time they drive over a bridge, you just may be onto something. The ASCE report card elucidates that the
average age of bridges in the U.S. is 42 years old, with 25 percent of them proving to be deficient. If these numbers aren’t concerning enough, approximately 2010 million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation’s 102 largest metropolitan regions. These metropolitan bridges are decaying much more rapidly than rural ones, and although states and cities are increasing efforts to make repairs and replacements, current funding levels are simply not enough to replace the nation’s large-scale, urban bridges. Fortunately, the percentage of deficient bridges has been declining slowly, but the nation must also work on increasing its level of postings on bridges that warrant closures, or are subject to load restrictions.
2. Highway not my way
report card details the major U.S. cities and shows the annual number of hours a typical auto commuter spends in highway traffic, according to the year and place of residence. While drivers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have seen a decrease in the number of hours from a peak of 35 hours in 2007 to 25 now, Houston, Texas, commuters have seen a gradual increase and now sit in their car for around 57 hours each year, compared to 24 hours in 1982.
3. Run-down roads
And those roads that drivers are wasting time sitting in traffic on aren’t exactly in exemplary condition. In fact, 32 percent of U.S. roads are in poor or mediocre condition, costing motorists $324 annually. This is a startling reality as America’s 4 million miles of roads are what serve as the link for people and goods throughout the country. The ability of trucks to have access to ports, rail terminals, and city centers is what determines the strength and viability of the U.S. economy. Though there has been recent improvement to pavement conditions, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act only subsidized short surges of investment rather than long-term ones.
4. No help in sight
Additionally, the current investment in roads and bridges is not sufficiently meeting the country’s needs, and this trend is expected to only continue. The investment gap now totals $112 billion, and bridges and roads are suffering. Bridges post an $8 billion investment gap, while roads suffer a much greater deficit of $79 billion.
5. Dealing with crashes
Lastly, motor vehicle safety is a problem that is showing an extremely slow pattern of improvement. In 2010, the number of motor vehicle crashes reached more than 5.5 million, but was down from around 6 million in 2000.
The number of injured persons is certainly lower, posting a 2.5 million figure in 2010, just slightly higher than the average in 2009. Fatalities numbered 32,000 in 2009, after an alarming peak of over 44,000 in 2009. As evidenced by the three trends, the number of motor vehicle crashes and subsequent injuries and fatalities is on the decline. Although the three trends illustrate a decline in motor vehicle crashes and subsequent injuries and fatalities, an increase in investment could draw more drastic improvement as drivers would no longer be contending with unsafe road conditions.