The U.S. infrastructure is not crumbling

Politicians and voters claiming our infrastructure is crumbling are wrong and need to start educating themselves on how the whole system works. While my words will probably fall on deaf ears because American political society today is built on financial myths, EconomicPolicyJournal.com provided some interesting stats on the finances of our federal highway system compared to local/state governments. Go ahead and read the article in the link provided but here are some major points to read…….

More importantly, if additional investment is needed in the interstate highway grid, then the users should pay for it with a modest increase in the gasoline tax. Or better still, rescind the earmarks which divert upwards o 67% of the existing $45 billion per year of gas tax revenues to state and local roads, mass transit, bike trails, walking paths, weed removal, transportation museums and countless other diversions. In short order the system would be in tip-top shape.

Even in the case of just highways, the extent of mission creep and pork barrel politics is stunning. The 47,000 miles of Interstate Highways constitute only 1.1% of the 4 million miles of streets, roads and highways in the entire nation.
Indeed, the reason we have state, county, municipal and township government in the US is precisely to take care of the 99% of road surfaces that the great Dwight D. Eisenhower said should remain a non-Federal responsibility—-even as he pioneered the Interstate highway system and trust fund.
Yet at the present time less than $15 billion or one-third of the Ike’s trust fund receipts go to the Interstate Highway system he fathered. The rest gets auctioned off by the Congressional politicians to state, county and local roads and to the far-flung array of non-highway purposes mentioned above.
The author also points out that the “Infrastructure is crumbling” ploy was used in the early 1980’s by lobbyists on the Reagan Administration. He at first resisted but within a year fell for the same ploy.
By the time a pork-laden highway bill was rammed through a lame duck session of Congress in December 1982, Reagan too had bought on to the crumbling infrastructure gambit.
“We have 23,000 bridges in need of replacement or rehabilitation; 40 percent of our bridges are over 40 years old.”
Fast forward to today…..
In this context, the crumbling bridges myth starts with the claim by DOT and the industry lobbies that there are 63,000 bridges across the nation that are “structurally deficient”. This suggests that millions of motorists are at risk for a perilous dive into the drink.
But here’s the thing. Roughly one-third or 20,000 of these purportedly hazardous bridges are located in six rural states in America’s mid-section: Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The fact that these states account for only 5.9% of the nation’s population seems more than a little incongruous but that isn’t even half the puzzle. It seems that these thinly populated town and country states have a grand total of 118,000 bridges.
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