Truck drivers in the US don’t have to guess how badly the highway infrastructure of the country is doing. As we’ve noted in years past, America’s bridges and highways are suffering from state and federal budget cuts, misappropriation of money that’s actually budgeted, and damage caused by distracted drivers.
Just a generation ago, the United States invested heavily to create one of the world’s best transportation infrastructure networks. But now, with real investment stagnating even as much of the infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life, global economic competitors are leaving the United States behind. In a blog post by the senior fellow from the Council on Foreign Nations Robert Alden, he tells us how bad the situation has become. His group created a scorecard for infrastructure development in the US, and it’s eye-opening.
Two data points from the Scorecard stand out:
- Since 1980, the number of highway miles traveled by American drivers has doubled, but the miles of road on which they’re driving have increased just 5 percent. It’s no mystery, as the report notes, why traffic congestion takes more than $700 out of the pocket of the average commuter each year.
- Two-thirds of Americans say that fully funding transportation infrastructure is either extremely important or very important to them. Yet solid majorities are opposed to any of the usual ways of funding new roads, including higher gas taxes or new tolls.
As the Surface Transportation Bill continues to be debated and partitioned by lawmakers, alternative methods of collecting revenue for highway repairs get more attention, such as toll road hikes. This is bad news for truck drivers, who are particularly vulnerable to rising tolls and fuel taxes because most just can’t be written off.
This is why re-authorization of the Surface Transportation Bill is so important to the trucking industry. And the current inactivity of Congress isn’t helping anyone. The last multi-year bill expired in 2009 and has been replaced by a series of short-term extensions that make rational construction planning all but impossible for state and local governments. The bill expires again June 30th, and congressional leaders again look unlikely to reach agreement and are predicting another short-term extension. It will be the 10th; as an industry analyst put it recently, this marks a new low in congressional irresponsibility.
But enough mincing words. Have a look at how the United States scores alongside other countries of the world in infrastructure quality and budgeting. Why do you think we’re scoring so low, truck drivers?
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