New Hampshire Public Radio and NPR posted an online series on the state of our roads. The terrible state of our roads is likely to get worse before it gets better:
Today, 37 percent of state-maintained roads and highways are deemed “in poor condition” by the state’s Department of Transportation. Under current funding, that will increase to 43 percent by 2016. And bad roads are getting worse. That’s because it costs twenty times as much to reconstruct a badly maintained road than to resurface one in decent condition. “Fixing worst first,” says Bill Boynton at NHDOT, “you’ll never catch up.”
The report goes on to say, and I’ve heard NH DOT Commissioner Christopher Clement say this in presentations, “It costs $50,000 [per mile] to repave a decently maintained road, and $1 million [per mile] to reconstruct a failed road.”
Given the increase in the number of poor condition roads since 2000 (shown in red at right), things are looking grim. Additional details can be found in the NH DOT report, The Roads to New Hampshire’s Future [pdf].
As a result of our poor roads, we’re paying more for maintaining our cars. According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, NH citizens pay on average an additional $323 annually in operating costs due to poor road conditions. Those in the southern part of the state pay an average of $503 extra each year for extra wear and tear on their vehicles.
This is a complex issue, and must be solved from many different directions. One of those is reducing the load on our roads through traffic demand management. This is a set of strategies to reduce congestion, including carpooling and transit, that are cost effective in addition to improving our health and the environment.