Texas has about 308,000 miles of public roads, and according to the civil engineers’ study, 38 percent of those roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
The study goes on to say that Texas drivers are having to shell out about $5 billion a year in car repair costs because of potholes and cracked pavement.
American Society of Civil Engineers President Gregory DiLoreto says that breaks down to about $340 for every motorist.
“Now think if we could take that $340 a year and instead of fixing our car, we put it into the roads directly and improved pavement conditions. And we reduced congestion in your metropolitan areas. Think of how much more of an improved quality of life our citizens would have.”
In the category of road maintenance, Texas got the same grade it received on the last report card in 2008. That grade was a “D.”
And with the state’s population expected to grow to over 36 million people by 2040, DiLoreto says things could get worse if road maintenance isn’t more of a priority.
“If we’re not able to close the gap in our infrastructure investment, which we estimate to be about $1.6 trillion dollars nationwide, we’re going to see a loss in our gross domestic product.”
And David Crossley with the research institute Houston Tomorrow fears that gap could widen here in Texas.
“It’s a real problem, you know, that we are so interested in new stuff, that we just let it all fall apart.”
Crossley points to the millions of dollars in new freeway construction in the Houston area — projects, such as the Grand Parkway, that are designed to serve a growing suburban population.
“If we are determined that we are only going to build new things out at the edge, there’s no way where we can create any kind of situation where we can take care of all those roads. We’re making a system that is bigger than we can maintain.”
Amid worries over significant shortfalls in the years to come, lawmakers in Austin are currently discussing new ways to pay for transportation. One of the funding issues is that the 20-cents-a-gallon gas tax hasn’t been raised in over two decades.
Officials estimate the state now needs about a billion dollars to pay for highway maintenance.
No one from TXDot’s Austin office was available to comment on the state’s poor grade.