Nonpartisan group Transportation for America has released a report
detailing the deteriorating condition of the U.S. road network
. It found that states are continuing to push ahead with the expansion of their roads while neglecting to repair and carry out regular maintenance on existing infrastructure, which is creating new financial liabilities. The share of roads in poor condition nationwide increased from 14 to 20 percent between 2009 and 2017. This is particularly concerning given that Congress has provided addtional federal funding for transportation infrastructure twice during that timeframe.
As of 2017, the U.S. would have to spend $231.4 billion annually to keep its existing road network in a decent state and restore the backlog of roads in a poor condition over a six-year period. Between 2004 and 2008, states collectively spent $21 billion per year on road expansion and $16 billion per year on maintenance and preservation
. Between 2009 and 2014, spending on new projects came to $21.3 billion while while the collective outlay for maintenance totaled $21.4 billion. Despite that increase, the still considerable financial outlay on new roads will require considerable and possibly unsustainable investment in the years ahead.
When it comes to managing the balance between new roads and the maintenance of existing ones, some states are performing better than others. For example, South Dakota allocated 69 percent of its highway capital budget to road repair between 2009 and 2014. During the same period, Mississippi dedicated 4 percent to repair and 77 percent to expansion. Given how mismanaged funding is, which states had the worst roads in 2017? According to the report, 53 percent of roads in Rhode Island are deemed to be in poor condition, along with 45 percent in California and 42 percent in Hawaii. Idaho and Tennessee were at the opposite end of the table with only 5 percent of roads in both states deemed to be in poor condition.