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Time to fix our roads and highways

May 28, 2014

A common pastime these days in the Upper Delaware River Valley is grumbling about the current miserable condition of our roads and highways. Some people blame this on the rough winter we just had, but truth be told, many of those same roads and highways were in no great shape to begin with, due to years of neglect by both the Empire and Keystone states.

New York State’s (NYS) 2013 infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers ( deems 60% of all major NYS roads to be of poor or mediocre quality, resulting in costs of $403 per motorist annually from driving on roads in need of repair. Additionally, the report card counts 2,169 structurally deficient bridges—21% of all state bridges—while another 27% are considered functionally obsolete.

Across the river, 57% of Pennsylvania’s roads were rated in poor or mediocre condition in 2010 ( The website promises a more current update soon for 2014.) Repairs and operating expenses cost each Pennsylvania motorist $341 in 2010. More than 5,500 PA bridges (24.4%) are considered structurally deficient, and 19.3% are considered functionally obsolete.

Today, there are some signs that the tide is beginning to turn. Deciding to invest in roads and highways, PA recently increased its gasoline tax to 41.8 cents a gallon (up from 32.3 cents). New York State’s gas tax stands at 49.86 cents a gallon, and the Empire State is in the second year of a transportation infrastructure investment program. While it appears that the two states have started to figure out that they have to do something about our deteriorating infrastructure, the question remains whether they can afford to do all that is necessary. Problems as big as this don’t get fixed overnight, which is why we believe a long-range plan for infrastructure work is necessary at the highest levels of state government.