NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 1, 2005

It's obvious that urban roads are deteriorating, say researchers from the Road Information Program (TRIP), a transportation industry research group. Furthermore, says TRIP, the condition of major roads in urban areas continues a decline.

  • More than a quarter of roads in major metropolitan areas, 26 percent, are judged to be in poor condition, up from 22 percent in 1998 when the decline began.
  • Car maintenance costs have increased to an average of $401 annually due to motorists traveling on bad roads.

TRIP also found:

  • Atlanta has the smoothest roads, with some 84 percent in good condition.
  • The worst roads are in Kansas City, where 71 percent of interstate highways, freeways and main arterial routes are substandard.

The culprits, say the researchers, are more trucks and less money spent to repave and repair.

Truck traffic rose 58 percent from 1990 to 2003, compared with a 41 percent increase in traffic overall. Trucks "put significantly more wear on roads," says Frank Moretti, TRIP's research director. "You've got to build and maintain roads that can handle these vehicles."

Missouri and California dominate the top of the list of cities with the worst roads. They haven't spent enough, Moretti says. "Instead of patching roads, they've been using it to patch up their budgets elsewhere."

In California, revenue from the state gas tax has been diverted to other uses since 2002. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised this month to spend it all on transportation.

Source: Martha T. Moore, "Study says nation's urban roads deteriorating," USA Today, May 26, 2005; based upon "Rough Ride Ahead: Metro Areas with the Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make Our Roads Smoother," The Road Information Program, May 2005.

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