Message in a pothole

TRIP, The Road Information Program, has once again reported on the costs of bad roads, and they are considerable. Where are the worst?

TRIP’s study, “Rough Ride In The City: Metro Areas With the Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make Our Roads Smoother,” found that the ten large urban regions (500,000+ population), with the greatest share of major roads and highways with pavements in poor condition are: San Jose — 66%, Los Angeles — 65%, San Francisco-Oakland — 58%, Kansas City — 58%, New Orleans (pre-Katrina) — 56%, San Diego — 54%, Sacramento — 50%, St. Louis — 46%, Omaha — 46% and New York City — 45%. [Link to PDF file.]

In an appendix to the report, I find that TRIP considers 19 percent of Oklahoma City-area roads to be Good, 12 percent Fair, 26 percent Mediocre, and an appalling 43 percent Poor, missing the Top Ten by only a couple of percentage points. According to TRIP, these roads cost the average local motorist $568 per year in depreciation, component wear, tire wear and poorer gas mileage. (The San Jose driver, facing roads even worse, shells out $705; the marginally-less-horrible roads in Tulsa run up a $527 tab.)

A report on the state’s Interstates only, issued earlier this year, bore less bad news: the freeways aren’t nearly as bad as the surface streets. On the other hand, congestion, especially in urban areas, is growing rapidly.


  1. McGehee »

    5 October 2006 · 9:18 am

    Sacramento at 50%?

    They’ve deteriorated a bit since I lived there. I would have estimated 48%, tops.

  2. Tom Elmore »

    11 October 2006 · 1:22 am

    Don’t get “tripped.” “TRIP” is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the highway lobby, plain and simple, trying to make sure its big bosses keep getting fed in the style to which they are accustomed.

    Are roads bad, not just in Oklahoma but across the nation? Sure. But that’s the way they’re supposed to be — and the way the politicians keep them. That way, “TRIP” and its bosses have plenty to keep them busy while the taxpayers pay and pay and pay and pay and pay.

    Sure — they look like “highways” to you — but to the highway lobby, they’re endless conveyor belts carrying your money into their pockets.

    Why does the highway lobby hate alternatives? Consider that Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Light Rail lines, built mostly on existing, former freight railway corridors requiring no “taking” from the public, were built to a 100 year service life standard. That’s five Interstate-class highway pavement service lives. The DART Rail lines were built to require no significant maintenance for 40 years.

    DART reported that the first 23.5 miles of its new-in-1996 rail transit lines were built at a cost representing one-fifth that of creating the same amount of new carrying capacity with new urban highways.

    One other great thing about the electric DART Rail Trains: using them doesn’t help fund Iran’s nuclear program.

    Remember this: The state of Oklahoma owns more railway — over 900 miles — than any other state in the Union (this, in addition to the state’s commercially owned and operated lines).

    The central nexus of the most strategic of these lines is at OKC Union Station, which boasts the last grand urban rail passenger facility in the West with all its original yard space intact.

    Why is ODOT determined to destroy this fabulous asset, negatively affecting the entire state? For the same reason ODOT, at least since the coming of the Keating Administration, has always made the least instead of the most of its amazing rail assets.

    Meanwhile, Ernest J. Istook, the man most responsible for funding ODOT’s irresponsible “New I-40 Crosstown Plan,” has also been busy funding light rail and other rail transit in Utah and Arizona — arguably, in part, with Oklahoma-derived tax dollars.

    Ah well.


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