The long-delayed, but finally passed federal highway bill basically keeps spending at current levels through FY 2014. Which wasn't enough then and certainly isn't enough now. Driving on I-71 in central Cincinnati is awful.
And the highway bill is just one piece of the puzzle. In Ohio, a recent study says 38 percent of Ohio’s roads have fallen out of good condition. It also says it would cost $1.1 billion a year for the next 20 years to get 90 percent of the roads back to good condition. And this study is based on road conditions of 2008! How much worse is it now?
Well, in March 2012, the ODOT director said: "Funding for our highways is drying up and is not projected to keep up with our needs. In fact, the state’s highway budget faces a $1.6 billion shortfall, which will force high-priority projects to face serious completion delays."
And this is after projecting that the state would spend nearly $470 million LESS on roads in 2012 than it did in 2007. (A lot of interesting data on this chart.) The city of Cincinnati's spending on street rehabilitation also has been shrinking.
Most of these cuts reflect the tough economy. However, there is little evidence that our state and local governments are being more aggressive about setting priorities. The $60 million in city funds dedicated to the streetcar may not directly take funds away from street repair, but the increased debt does make it harder to make budget room for other capital projects. People are still seeking money for bike paths. People are still talking about "traffic calming."
Well, who needs street humps to slow down the cars? The unfilled potholes and buckled pavement on many streets appears to be doing the job. Or maybe the tire repair lobby is stronger than we think. Hmmm. The Tire Discounter guy does wear a cape.
Fix the #$@!*& roads! And don't come to me asking for more money for other wish list projects until you do!
And btw, if anybody thinks "privatization" will do a better job...just take a drive along Reading Road in Avondale. Cincinnati Bell has utterly failed to fix its manhole/potholes that have sunk several inches. This isn't one or two isolated instances. It's every manhole for mulitple blocks between W.H. Taft and Dana Ave. This significant local road is practically undrivable. So much for private sector efficiency.