A new survey by Politico Magazine of U.S. mayors has found that 1 in 3 mayors believe that underinvestment in infrastructure is putting lives at risk, and a plurality of mayors, some 40 percent, believe that that transportation and infrastructure should be the next administration’s highest urban priority.
“Mayors are on the front lines and are acutely aware of the pressing infrastructure needs our country faces,” said John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). “While total investment surely matters, this is not only a case of needing to invest more money. Many states have continually misallocated the existing pool of resources for years by continually building new and wider highways, ignoring critical public transit, biking, and walking options, and leaving our existing roads and bridges to literally crumble,” said Olivieri.
According to the National Bridge Inventory more than 58,791 bridges are currently listed as structurally deficient – nearly 1 in 10. Meanwhile, a recent report from Smart Growth America found that over a recent two-year period, states spent roughly 55 percent of their existing transportation dollars expanding just 1 percent of the current system and just 45 percent repairing and preserving the remaining 99 percent.
The Politico survey also found that nearly half of mayors felt their existing infrastructure had deteriorated over the past 10 years. And among mayors who felt that there infrastructure was vulnerable, 62 percent cited roads and bridges as a concern, with another 46 percent citing mass transit.
“Our roads, bridges, and mass transit systems are in a terrible state of disrepair,” said Olivieri. “We need to fundamentally rethink how we are spending our existing resources. This is a safety issue, a public health issue, and an environmental issue all rolled into one. There is a lot at stake. We can’t afford to continue to build new and wider highways that fail to effectively address congestion while leaving our existing infrastructure to crumble,” he added.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group have identified 12 of the worst, most wasteful highway projects in the nation in a recent report, Highway Boondoggles 2: More Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future.