Americans agree: Roads and bridges need facelifts

Over 20% of the bridges in Rhode Island need repair work done soon.

From a political standpoint, it’s hard to deny that the United States is a starkly divided nation, each side with deep feelings for how the country ought to operate under a specific set of ideals. But there is at least one issue that just about everyone agrees with: America’s infrastructure is in desperate need of attention, according to the results of a recent poll.

Close to 50% of Americans registered to vote believe the nation’s roads and bridges have worsened since 2011, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers reported from a survey it commissioned. Additionally, between 80% and 90% of respondents think that the transportation system needs to be reformed so repairs can be implemented more swiftly.

Dennis Slater, AEM President, indicated that you don’t need to be a Republican, Democrat, or Independent to understand the poor conditions of highways, bridges, and overpasses. All you have to do is look.

“Americans across the political spectrum understand the dire state of U.S. infrastructure and believe that the federal government should do more to improve our infrastructure,” Slater explained. “Voters recognized that increased federal funding for assets such as roads, bridges, and inland waterways will have a positive impact on the economy, and they are looking to the federal government to repair and modernize.”

Indeed, when asked what groups or organizations had the highest amount of responsibility for the upkeep of the U.S.’ infrastructure, roughly half pointed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

One of the ways the federal government can go about applying repairs is though increased investment, something that many Americans support. Approximately 70% of registered voters agreed that increased federal funding would improve the nation’s economy, the AEM survey found, adding to the U.S.’ gross domestic product and potentially contributing tens of thousand of new jobs to the economy.

Infrastructure repair a bipartisan issue

Universally, registered voters are like-minded on what the government should do to revitalize the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Among Republicans, over two-thirds – 68% – said federal officials should be doing more than they are currently, a belief echoed by 70% of Independents, and slightly over three-quarters of Democrats, the poll revealed.

Ron De Feo, chairperson for AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 campaign, said the main candidates vying for the White House – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump – have made statements on how the country should move forward with development and will likely provide voters with more of the particulars in the coming days as November draws closer.

“The specific ideas and proposals they offer over the next [few months] will be critically important, and voters should consider them carefully on Election Day,” De Feo advised.

Almost 58,500 bridges ‘structurally deficient’

Each year, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association comes out with a report detailing how many of the nation’s roads and bridges need to be repaired, as well as those that have been taken off the “structurally deficient” list. Based on ARTBA’s latest estimates, roughly 58,500 bridges need to be fixed. Not surprisingly, those that are in the worst shape tend to be the ones that get the most use, such as the Kosciuzko Bridge in Kings County, New York, Yankee Doodle Bridge in Fairfield, Connecticut, and the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Several states in the Atlantic area have between 8% and more than 12% of bridges that are considered structurally deficient, chief among them Rhode Island at 23%, Pennsylvania at 21%, and New Hampshire at 13%. Road quality conditions are much more sound in the West, particularly Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. The same is true in Texas, where only 2% of the Lone Star State’s bridges are in conditions that warrant attention, according to ARTBA’s analysis.

The study’s findings largely mirror what the public thinks about their state’s roadways. For instance, in Rhode Island – the state with the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges as discovered by ARTBA’s findings, only 31% of residents are satisfied with the upkeep of streets and highways, according to a poll done by Gallup from earlier this year. That’s the lowest rate in the country. The states with the highest levels of satisfaction included North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Montana. In Arizona, nearly 75% are pleased with how their state’s roads are maintained.