Nation’s roads and bridges need overhaul, county engineers say
The nation’s roads and bridges are in desperate need of federal assistance for long-delayed maintenance and repair work, according to a new survey of 1,300 county engineers, “Fixing It: Infrastructure and the Economy,” commissioned by the National Association of Counties (NACo). County engineers often oversee roads and bridges on county designated routes.
More federal funds for infrastructure would also create jobs, according to the report. “Jobs that could be created by counties in the construction industry are not available because there is no secure funding stream for these infrastructure projects,” the report said.
County engineers responding to the survey point to declining infrastructure across the country. Overall, 98 percent of those responding say some of their roads are in poor and/or fair condition, while 86 percent of large urban counties say some of their roads are in poor condition. Eighty-six percent of all respondents report having bridges in poor condition.
The economic slowdown has hurt county road and bridge maintenance, according to the report. Fifty-one percent of responding county engineers say they have experienced funding cuts of between 10 to 25 percent since 2008, while 81 percent say they have deferred maintenance.
The problem, NACo officials say, is Congress’ failure to approve a multiyear reauthorization of the surface transportation bill that provides federal funds for road construction and maintenance. Congress has approved a series of temporary extensions since 2009. The current extension expires March 31.
“Maintaining safe and reliable transportation infrastructure across America is a basic yet vital function of government,” said Lenny Eliason, NACo president and commissioner in Athens County, Ohio. “It’s long overdue for Washington to reach agreement on a multi-year surface transportation bill.”
NACo commissioned the telephone survey of county engineers conducted by National Research, LLC. The survey received 400 completed responses from 31 states, all of which have road and bridge responsibilties.