Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Some states have stopped repairing rural roads, opting to spend funds on costlier urban projects

Some states have stopped funding rural road repairs and are instead spending the money on bigger, costlier projects in urban areas, reports The Associated Press. "The same pattern is playing out across the country, provoking growing fears in rural areas and elsewhere that the trade-off could make it even harder to eke out a living in many places where opportunity is already limited." Rural communities say poor roads not only make it harder for farmers to reach their fields and for residents to run errands but also hurt the tourism industry. (AP photo: A closed bridge in Milo, Iowa)

In Iowa money is going to fix roads in Des Moines, while residents in nearby rural Warren County say they are getting shortchanged, reports AP. The county of 50,000 residents "has permanently closed 20 bridges over small streams, with more likely to come. Current budgets can't possibly pay to maintain every road or bridge built over the last six decades, according to transportation officials."

"In Lafayette, Louisiana, Public Works Director Kevin Blanchard said he's closed three bridges. Another three are in 'rough shape' and might not pass their next inspection," reports AP. "One of the most troublesome closures has been a small bridge over a drainage canal that connects the University of Louisiana with student housing. The closure forces students to walk or drive an extra mile to campus, though many simply squeeze through an opening in a chain-link fence" to use the bridge, despite warnings that it could collapse.

In King County, Washington, "more than $3 billion is being spent to replace an elevated highway in Seattle with a tunnel carrying a double-deck roadway," AP reports. "In unincorporated areas, officials have closed three bridges and are struggling to maintain 1,500 miles of road. Far from Seattle's skyscrapers, residents of the tiny mountain community of Skykomish are furious that the state and county opted not to rebuild a section of the Old Cascade Highway that washed away several years ago. Eventually, officials plan to remove the bridge and permanently close a section of the scenic road. Residents fear that will hurt a community that relies on tourism and force more residents onto a frequently clogged highway that is now the only way to reach the town." (Read more)

No comments: