U.S. roads are in terrible shape. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated them a "D". Our bridges weren't too much better, earning a C+.
The ASCE's next report card is due in 2017, and given the insufficient sums allocated to roadway maintenance, improvement, and expansion, it's unlikely that those grades will improve much, if at all.
America's infrastructure imbroglio isn't new. Our roads have been in decline for some time, and money is mostly to blame.
23 years (and counting)
Motorists pay federal and state fuel taxes every time they fill up. In theory, those taxes should help keep our highways and byways up to snuff.
Unfortunately, the federal gas tax hasn't been increased since 1993. Few of us could survive for 23 years on stagnant wages, and our roads can't either. Increases have been proposed by Congress and the president, but none have bothered to lift the tax beyond its current 18.4 cents per gallon of gas (24.4 cents for diesel).
There are other solutions to our infrastructure problem, of course. We could institute a tax on oil, we could add tolls to roads, or we could tax motorists based on how far they drive (though implementing that kind of tax would be complicated). Some have even proposed ditching the current gas tax and restructuring it so that it's pegged to something like the inflation rate, allowing it to rise over time without repeated votes from elected officials.
How would you propose fixing America's crumbling infrastructure? We went to Twitter to find out:
How should we fix America’s crumbling roads?— CarConnection (@CarConnection) October 18, 2016
It's interesting that our followers are equally divided between upping the federal gas tax and instituting progressive road taxes (e.g. taxing miles driven or creating toll roads). Together, those two groups accounted for 86 percent of the total votes.
As for the seven percent who think that today's roads are just fine, we invite you to join us for our favorite Friday afternoon pasttime: pothole bingo. (Hit 'em all when you're racing home, and you won't have to drive anywhere over the weekend. Because you can't.)
And as for those seven percent who want to see our roads die a slow, painful death, well, you've already gotten your wish. Congratulations. We hope you're happy.