You might remember the video released last year in which a block of concrete fell from a Missouri bridge onto an unsuspecting vehicle. While Missouri doesn’t have the worst roads and bridges in the United States, we’re not proud of where it ranks.
Missouri Ranks #11 for Worst U.S. Rural Roads
TRIP, a national transportation research organization, has just released its most recent report on the condition of U.S. rural bridges and roads, and the findings don’t bode well for either Missouri or the rest of the nation. Missouri ranks among the worst states when it comes to deficient rural bridges and roads in poor condition: 11th in percentage of structurally deficient rural bridges and tied for 10th for the percentage of rural roads in poor condition (23%).
“The development of rural America—the primary and rapidly increasing source of the nation’s energy, food and fiber—is being hindered by a transportation system that has significant road and bridge deterioration, “ said Rocky Moretti, TRIP’s director of policy and research.
The report found that fatal car accidents occur at a disproportionate rate on rural roads. The fatality rate on rural roads in 2012 nation-wide was 2.21 per 100 million vehicle miles compared to .78 per 100 million vehicle miles on all other roads.
The report also analyzed 2012 federal data for traffic fatalities on rural roads, excluding federal interstate highways. According to Moretti, roadway design or conditions are a contributing factor in about one-third of crashes. The report says that rural roads, excluding federal interstate highways, have a traffic fatality rate nearly three times higher than other roads.
For those of you who are curious, TRIP found Connecticut to have the worst percentage – 35% – of major rural roads with poor pavement.
Spalling concrete is usually caused by both poor installation and environmental factors. According to wisegeek.org, several steps during the pouring process should be taken to prevent spalling. This includes making sure the mixture is kept as dry as possible. In a humid state like Missouri, the moisture of the curing mixture can weaken the infrastructure.
Signs of spalling can occur during the concrete installation. Cracks and pits will appear as the concrete is drying. As inclement weather continues to put stress on the material, and pieces can even break apart, as we saw yesterday under the I-55 overpass. This road hazards should be something the state is constantly looking for during inspection.
Will More St. Louis Bridges be Affected by Ice and Salt?
Although bridges are inspected at least once every two years, the biggest question on Facebook commenters’ minds seems to be “is a piece of concrete going to fall on my car?”
Croarkin tells Channel 4 staff that there will “probably be a few more with some crumbs falling off.”
With over a thousand bridges in the area, we hope to see MoDOT addressing the problem soon. Luckily, Whitte was in a large truck rather than a motorcycle or small car. Missouri drivers may not be able to walk away as easily if pieces of concrete continue to fall off St. Louis bridges and cause injuries.
Lack of Funding at Federal, State and Local Levels for Necessary Improvements
Many rural roads have deteriorated due to a lack of funding for improvements at the federal, state and local levels, and the news on the legislative horizon is bleak. The Highway Trust Fund—the federal funds used to repair highways and bridges—is projected to run out of money by the end of the summer unless the government takes action.
The fund provides as much as 40% or more of the funding for highway and rapid transit improvement projects. It gets its money from the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon, an amount that hasn’t been increased since 1993. Over the past 20 years, a combination of inflation and more fuel-efficient cars has steadily eaten away fund revenues without a corresponding decline in costs. As of this year, the fund will experience about an $8 billion shortfall. Without emergency funding, the state of the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure is likely to deteriorate even further.
This past week, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp announced a $10.9 billion plan to extend transportation funding through next May, but trying to get Congress to do anything—even when it comes to saving lives by improving defective road and bridges—is next to impossible. Past proposals to salvage the Highway Trust Fund have included closing business tax loopholes, raising the gas tax, instituting new road tolls and cutting funding elsewhere.
3/4 –Cent-Sales Tax for Transportation on August Ballot in Missouri
At the state level, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has placed a proposal for a 10-year, ¾-cent-sales tax for transportation on the August ballot. The proposal, originally slated to be on the November ballot, has been met by protests on the part of many who view the tax as regressive and unfair to the ordinary consumer.
They point out that Missouri hasn’t raised the state gasoline tax since 1996, even while fuel prices have tripled during this same period of time. In other states, attempts to pass a state gasoline tax have been met with heavy resistance by the trucking industry. Chances are, trucking lobbyists—who carry a lot of clout in Jefferson City—will push hard for the sales tax (versus a gasoline tax) here since the cost of an increase would be paid for by all consumers regardless of how many vehicle miles they travel or whether they even own a car.
Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, has said funding of our nation’s roads translates to a higher quality of life and access to economic opportunities, regardless of where they live.
Road Hazard Caused a Crash?
If you or someone you loved is injured in a crash that was caused by or made worse by a road hazard, call our car accident attorneys right away. Our personal injury lawyers are trained in accident litigation, and we’re not afraid to hold the state accountable for negligent road maintenance. Call us at 314.444.4444.