Drivers in America drove over 3.2 trillion miles in 2018 — an average of some 14,000 miles per licensed driver. But much of these travels are along a U.S. transportation infrastructure that is quickly deteriorating and needs federal funding.
According to an April update from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington D.C., “the need for transportation improvements far outpaces the amount of state and federal funding available.” As of 2020, 43% of major roads in the U.S. are in poor or mediocre condition. In addition, 7% of bridges are in poor or structurally deficient condition.
U.S. Transportation Infrastructure is falling behind
In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers assessed the condition of America’s roads as a D grade. Additionally, overall condition was given a D+. In three years since, vehicle travel has increased 17%. But new traffic has failed to be mitigated, with only a 5% increase in new roadways constructed.
The effect? 6.9 billion hours a year in traffic. On average, it costs $603 per year for each American motorist, according to the TRIP data. This is despite the state Department of Transportations spending more building new roads than maintaining the ones they have that are in bad condition.
“Most systems that make up our network of interstate highways are at least 50 years old, so there has to be substantial reinvestment to make sure those assets can keep up with daily wear and tear,” Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said to the New York Times.
Voting for improved roads
The backlog for transportation infrastructure improvement has a great effect on voters. In 2018, 270 of 305 transportation-related state and local ballot measures were approved, according to the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center.
Clearly, there is a need for more funding on every government level. And it’s the every-day civilian motorist that’s feeling the effect.
Why improve roads and bridges?
Roads and bridges are essential parts of America’s economy. Bridges transport trillions of dollars in goods every year, create jobs, connect communities, and allow motorists to travel feely. These central parts of the U.S. economy are in critical need of repair and improvement, and these improvements can create economic recovery.
Boost the economy
The design, construction and maintenance of America’s roads and bridges supports approximately 4 million full-time jobs. By investing into transportation infrastructure, the government can create valuable jobs. In the long-term, this will enhance economic competitiveness and stimulate sustained job growth.
Improve road safety
Between 2014 and 2018, an average of 35,784 people died on America’s roadways. A contributing factor to these accidents is the lack of adequate roadways safety features.
According to a 2017 report, every $100 million spent on roadway improvements would reduce the number of traffic fatalities by 44 and serious traffic injuries by 760 over a 20-year period. Not only are motorists losing precious time due to a decrepit transportation system, many have lost their lives.
With safety improvements such as passing lanes, wider lanes, medians, turning lanes, and clearing roadside objects, many accidents and costs to motorists can be avoided.
COVID-19 and Transportation Infrastructure
Due to roads being less busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have pushed to fast-track infrastructure construction projects. In many places this has been successful, and many projects are being completed faster than originally planned.
However, once roads return to relative normality, the long-term effect of COVID-19 could be catastrophic to transportation infrastructure. Keep in mind, the fast-tracked projects were previously approved. With state budgets taking a large hit, it’s likely states will cut back on large infrastructure investments in the coming months and even years.
Budget loss due to COVID-19
As a result of the drop in traffic, state Departments of Transportations are estimated to lose an average of 30% of transportation revenues over the next 18 months. Some will lose even more. Meanwhile, the American Public Transportation Association has requested $24 billion to cover operational costs for hard-hit transportation agencies. With a recent grade of D+ for infrastructure, losing this time in improving the nation’s infrastructure could be catastrophic and even deadly in the long-term.
Improve America’s Transportation Infrastructure
The time for federal agencies to invest in America’s infrastructure is now. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government was in talks to pass a $760 billion five-year plan to invest in infrastructure. An investment of this magnitude is no longer optional — it’s essential to maintain our transportation infrastructure.
Not only will it create jobs and economic opportunity, but it will save countless lives as the roads and bridges improve over time. Countless industries have received federal stimulus and aid during this time. To ensure a safe future, infrastructure must be one of them.
U.S. Bridge is proud to contribute sustainable solutions to America’s infrastructure. Our bridges are sustainable and safe, making transportation possible for people everywhere. Get a quote from us for your next bridge project or learn more about our steel bridges. Together, we’ll build a better future for America’s infrastructure.