The Funding MONSTER!
For example, our MAP-21 Transportation Bill specifically calls out recycle preservation and sustainability; and yet, some states are simply ignoring this bill all together, and they continue to do things like it’s 1956. What business would still be in business today if they were still doing things like it was 1956?
Next, our Highway Trust Fund is pretty much out of money, and the prediction is that we will be out of money in October of this year. Even if it were funded, if we continue to do things the same old way, our country will never catch up with the deficit backlog of bad roads that we’ve created.
According to Smart Growth America, our country is spending 57% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a mere 1.3% of our roadway system. In this country I’ve driven 87,000 miles over last year and a half in the RV on roads that are somewhat impossible, interstates impossible, only to look in my rearview mirror and see multimillion dollar flyovers, interchanges being built seemingly for no apparent reason in the middle of nowhere.
Our fuel tax has not been changed for several decades, and people are putting more and more miles on their vehicles with these fuel-efficient and alternate fuel cars. Most local agencies’ tax revenue is at an all-time low due to the downturn in the economy. Many city and county politicians believe that paving dirt roads is a progressive step and an effort to keep their rate payers happy. But the harsh reality is that in these trying times, some cities and counties have simply been forced to turn their paved roads back to dirt.
The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) is looking for consultants that will work with them on a project that will help agencies, like you, to know when the correct time is to grind up their asphalt roads and turn them back to dirt. I’ll just let you think about that for a second. They know that there is a plethora of cities and counties coming down the road here that will have no choice but to grind up their paved roads and turn them back to dirt. At the same time our commissioners are thinking that their road managers should be out there paving the roads, isn’t that a contradiction itself?
Asphalt is the most recycled product in America. In fact, over 100 million tons a year are recycled and, typically, put back in the asphalt plant each year. However, we currently only recycle in-place a small percentage, perhaps 3% or 4% in this country, even though this process has proven themselves to be inexpensive and eco-efficient for decades. Some states that are leaders in using the recycling treatments are currently recycling roads that they initially recycled 22 years ago. This works, folks, and you’ll read allabout that in The Book On Better Roads.
Furthermore, ADA (American Disabilities Act) clarifications are doubling the cost of urban type projects. I’ll talk a little bit about that later on in the same session. Only about 10% of the traveling public understands what pavement preservation is, even though everyone knows the importance of taking care of their homes and cars and preserving those assets. Our roadway system in America is our most valuable asset with over four million miles of paved roads.
So, as told a long time ago, never to go to your boss and present a problem without a potential solution. As you might have guessed, there is a simple solution, and I have the solution. It’s the three-legged stool system of pavement management. I will discuss some of the key elements of the system.
For those of you who are not pavement managers — the non-pavement manager type city officials, rater payers, everyday normal citizens like you guys — these key elements are discussed in great detail in The Book On Better Roads and throughout the IPMA Academy along with our sponsor, our academic partner, Auburn University.
So again, 30,000-foot overview, I want this session to be one that you could share amongst yourselves. At one point, I think Everett and I will go ahead and put this onto a CD that you can pass around the office. But for now, enjoy the MP3; let’s get into this right now …to be continued!
Please look for Part 3 (The Three-Legged Stool System)