Why are roads in the U.S. so bad?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by glocke12, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. glocke12 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    In my area eastern PA, all the local roads, from what are almost single lane rural back roads, to state routes, and in many cases even interstates are really terrible. I call it "going offroading on blacktop" just because there are so many bumps, potholes, and uneven surfaces. The guy at the local shop where I buy my tires even says that the condition of our roads really reduces the lifespan of a tire.

    We pay so much in taxes at the local, state and federal level, on top of gasoline taxes that youd think we would be able to build roads that wont tear out the suspension on your car.

    Another thing I cant figure out is why a local township recently tore up a perfectly good, even, flat road that was just repaved last year, and than repaved it again this year. I travel that stretch of road every day, and never noticed anything amiss. I can only help but think that they had extra money in their budget that they had to get rid of this year and they got rid of it by tearing up and repaving a perfectly good road.
  2. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    PA roads are bad in general. One of the causes is the high amount of freeze/thaw cycles.
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Here in/around DC the voters are eating their words when it comes to roadways. The various "Beltway Improvement" projects cause more problems at the present than they'll solve in the future, and it seems like the entirety of Northern Virginia is one huge construction project causing traffic jams daily.

    Bleh. Roads are lose-lose for everyone :( ...until the Google Car comes out and learns to avoid potholes.
  4. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Overuse, particularly by long-haul trucks, and underinvestment. From my experience, some states are better than others.
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Protecting next year's budget is first and foremost in bureaucratic minds.

    It's why the cost of government never goes down, just up, or flat, if you are damn lucky.
  6. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
    I lived in PA for a while and crossing over the border to MD was like going over to road heaven.

    Seriously though for large countries its a matter of cost per mile, big distances to cover and a pretty large population to move around. Its why when you compare roads in Holland to those in the US for instance, you notice the difference.
  7. quagmire macrumors 603


    Apr 19, 2004
    The American public frown upon infrastructure spending because our wonderful politicians playing politics labelled infrastructure spending as pet projects of corrupt Congressmen. What Americans don't realize when they complain about the roads, water, etc is that stuff like those our infrastructure which they don't like the government to spend on.
  8. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    The roads are funded by a fixed gasoline tax, which is political suicide to raise. Therefore, the roads suck.
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I don't know about PA, but in north Texas bad soil is partly to blame.

    True story. I heard it yesterday from a geotechnical engineer.
  10. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Y'all clearly haven't driven down New Orleans. Here we don't have holes or cracks in our streets, we have craters.
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    That's nothing.

    In my city, we drive over the roofs of Smart Cars. :p
  12. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Pennsylvania roads are the worst I've seen in any state (I live in PA). Whoever heads PennDOT should be **** canned.

    As one other commenter posted, driving into Maryland becomes road heaven. (It really does!)

    Also the road construction in PA takes much much longer. We just had a piece of highway completed that if I recall my facts right was FIFTY years in the making.

    Also up the mountain from where I live there is a stretch of road that is under repair that hasn't been touched in 4 years. The cones are up, as are the signs, but as always, no workers. Ever.
  13. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    This explains why New Zealand roads are amazingly nice! That place has some wicked expensive gas!

    (Well, so does a lot of the world. My friends in Bosnia pay $8 U.S. dollars a liter!)
  14. wackymacky macrumors 68000


    Sep 20, 2007
    38°39′20″N 27°13′10″W
    If USA wants beeter roads they should pay more in fuel tax.

    Attached Files:

  15. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Why are our roads so bad?
    The answer is.... well, the answer to this question:

    What kind of person WANTS to get into Politics in the first place?

    a- Criminal

    b- Insane

    c- The Criminally Insane!

    So, since Politicians are involved with fixing roads, you get things like perfectly good roads re-paved every year while important bridges collapse.
    Despite the state of the roads, it's a sure bet that a whole lot of money went somewhere!

    I thought of a solution, but it won't be popular.

    Here it is:
    We re-instate the Draft. Only instead of requiring a few years in the Military, we require a few years in the Congress, Senate or Judiciary.

    Requirements would include:
    IQ tested over 80 in High School.
    Legal US Citizen
    Ability to speak English
    Having been employed by someone, anyone, doing something, anything at all for over 6 weeks.

    We could still hold elections for President.

    Then we could have sane, reasonable government that would fix the roads.
    Amongst other things.

    The biggest problem with this idea is:
    What would we do with all of the out-of-work professional Politicians? What possible useful purpose could they serve?

    Have Fun,

    PS. It's not OT! Honestly, it's the only way I can think of to fix the roads.
  16. it5five macrumors 65816


    May 31, 2006
    New York
    Yet another chiming in about how bad PA roads are.

    When I want to go to NYC, the quickest way is for me to drive through PA to get to NJ (to catch the train in).

    There is a very noticeable change when I enter each and leave each state. I thought the roads in my city were bad (and they are), but PA is a mess.
  17. glocke12 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    would that be the route 202 bypass?
  18. SactoGuy18 macrumors 68030


    Sep 11, 2006
    Sacramento, CA USA
    There are two problems here:

    1) In the USA, roadbeds are not as thick as those found on European espressways--especially the German autobahnen. But then, the cost per kilometer of construction and maintenance of the autobahnen are pretty expensive, though.

    2) Roads in the USA are subject--especially east of the Rocky Mountains--to some rather extreme weather conditions. With snow in the winter, rain in the summer, and winter temperatures dropping below -10 °C. and summer temperatures sometimes over 40 °C., I'm actually amazed the roads have held up so well.
  19. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I was on a road trip last year and paid nearly $20 for the privilege of driving across the state on the PA turnpike...I was expecting the road to be as smooth as a baby's butt if I was paying that much, but no, it wasn't. It was worse than the roads in St. Louis (which are actually pretty decent) and we don't pay a single cent in tolls in STL.
  20. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    If we listen to the right-wing politicians, investing in roads is "government waste". The key to fix the problem is to lower taxes, so government has even less money. Then the roads will magically fix themselves.
  21. MacVixen macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2009
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Our state highways are a mess in California, and the local roads are in even worse shape. Main reason being is that *most* road repair money comes strictly from gas tax revenue - no general fund contributions at all. The price of gas doesn't change the amount of tax being received. I believe in California it's something like $0.18 per gallon - no matter the actual price per gallon of gas.

    Additionally, the state pretty much constantly delays sending payment of gas tax receipts to local governments. Some years they simply don't send it at all, and keep it to attempt to balance the state budget. It leaves local municipalities at a real loss as to how to fund these repairs. This problem may actually be fixed with Tuesday's passage of Proposition 22 which prohibits the State from diverting gas tax money in the future. We'll see how that actually goes.

    Raising taxes never works either because 1) Teh People feel like they pay too much in taxes already and 2) taxes in California require a super majority 2/3 vote to pass. So you could have 65% of the people willing to pay more for road repairs, but the other 35% shoots it down. I really don't see it getting better any time soon.
  22. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Totally agree. I drive up from VA to the Allentown, PA area a few times a year, and I'm always amazed at how crappy things are once you leave MD and enter PA. Well, the little bit of 95 that I'm on isn't bad, but once you start going up 476, it quickly turns into a joke.

    FWIW, roads are nowhere near as crappy down in my part of VA. Not even close.
  23. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    What about NJ, DE, WV, OH, NY?
  24. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    The best roads I have driven on were in Kansas/Oklahoma

    CO is pretty nice

    NY, esp western NY has **** for roads. So many potholes

    Chicago was bad too from my driving there

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