Infrastructure study: Cold weather states are falling apart

August 14, 2018

If there’s one thing almost every American can agree on, it’s this: our roads, bridges, tunnels, and dams need some serious renovation going forward.

That’s why President Donald Trump proposed a $1 trillion plan to improve the country’s aging infrastructure, though funding the project has proven difficult given the president’s rocky relationship with congress. Nevertheless, almost three quarters of all Americans support spending more money on federal infrastructure. But though we argue about it constantly, which state is actually in the worst... state?

MORE: President Trump’s infrastructure plan includes more tolls, more state control for roads

According to USA Today, a study by affiliate 24/7 Wall Street has found that the honor has gone to Rhode Island, which has the highest percentage of roads in “poor” condition at 24.6 percent and deficient bridges at 23.3 percent. Further, 42.3 percent of Rhode Island’s dams are at a “high hazard risk,” the 9th highest number in the country, and state spending on highway infrastructure per driver was 16th-lowest, at just $408 per person.

Three New England states—Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—were in the top 10 worst states, and Hawaii, the second-worst state, had a shockingly high percentage of dams at a high hazard risk with 93.2 percent. The study emphasizes that this number does not suggest that catastrophic failures are imminent, but that higher risk percentages mean a greater likelihood of some level of failure in the near future.

Naturally, many states with warmer weather fared better in the study, with Florida posting the lowest average numbers overall. At only 1.3 percent of roads in poor condition, it trailed only Kansas in that category despite the 22nd-lowest state highway spending per driver at $457. Alaska spent a sky-high $2,374 per driver on infrastructure, but ranked 6th worst in the country overall.

Though freezing temperatures are a major cause of Northeast, Midwest, and other “rust belt” states ranking high on the list, Kristina Swallow, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers emphasizes that age is a key factor. “[These systems] were never really designed to meet the demands of today,” said Swallow. “It’s hurting our economy, it’s hurting our communities’ ability to grow, it’s hurting our quality of life, and in some cases, there are public safety concerns.”

Whatever the infrastructure state of your state, one thing is clear: spending on public roads, bridges, and dams needs to increase before things deteriorate further.

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