With one-third of all federally aided highways in "poor" or "fair" condition, 41 percent of 577,710 bridges either structurally deficient or obsolete for modern traffic and the cost to keep pace with road and bridge repairs estimated at $150 billion, Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner review of this nation's road-building and mass transit strategy seemed appropriate.
What he came up with, though, contains serious flaws.
He would add "highways of national significance" to the 44,000-mile Interstate Highway System, roughly 120,000 miles of major arteries, and leave 700,000 second-tier roads to the states. With such huge outlays looming for repairs, Mr. Skinner wants to shift focus to repairs and congestion relief for airports, highways, bridges and mass transit. New construction would get less emphasis, with more state flexibility in picking projects and a greater state share of the fiscal responsibility.
But under the Skinner scenario, states would pay much more to build and repair roads. And older urban states such as Maryland would lose road funds due to a new formula that rewards underpopulated but large western states and penalizes heavily populated smaller states. That makes no sense.