- I-35 Bridge Collapse via Wikipedia

America’s Roadways Ranked #16 in the World!

The Federal Gas Tax was last raised nearly a quarter of a century ago, and we need $237 billion in needed repairs!

2y ago

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Back in 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation ranked the world’s roadway systems and found that the U.S. highway system is number 16 in the world, behind Portugal! At the time, the report estimated that America needed to invest $189 billion in road repair, plus another $48 billion to fix nearly 73,000 bridges! That’s $237 billion, folks!

Here is an article from CBS News:

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America's Infrastructure via Wikipedia

America's Infrastructure via Wikipedia

Worse still, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has issued a report that the poor quality of America’s roadways will cost the country, “876,000 jobs and suppress the growth of our GDP by $897 billion by the year 2020.” That’s a lot of jobs and a lot of lost money.

Broken Bridge Footing via CBS News

Broken Bridge Footing via CBS News

If you’re keeping up with the math here folks, if we invest $237 billion in our roads, we will save 876,000 jobs and $897 billion in GDP! That’s a net gain of $660 billion (plus a ton of jobs)! That would more than pay for the $406.5 billion cost of the challenged F-35 fighter jet!

What if we don’t make the investment in our roads? The average American spends over 40 hours a year stuck in traffic. That accounts for $121 billion in lost time, each and every year. Most estimates tell us that over the next 30 years, drivers can expect to spend an additional 60% of their time in traffic due to failing roadway systems and increased traffic congestion due to population growth! Do you really want to spend 64 hours a year stuck in traffic? Also, with the average American earning $27.63 an hour (depending on your source it can be as low as $24.57), that’s $1,105.20 per year in lost wage time today with an estimated increase to $1,768.21 a year in lost wage time by 2045!

Traffic via one hip guy

Traffic via one hip guy

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced its “Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA)” grants program; a $1.5 billion discretionary grant program to help rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. No, that’s not a typo that is off by two decimal places; they are only investing an additional $1.5 billion in our roadways.

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If that number seems tiny to you, that’s because it is. A $1.5 billion investment in our roadways is less than 1% of the amount that is estimated to be needed today for our roads, and it’s only going to get worse. As needed maintenance is neglected on an additional 527,000 bridges in our roadway system, the costs are only going to go up.

Bridge Collapse via the Boston Globe

Bridge Collapse via the Boston Globe

Is it time the Fed raised the gas tax so they can fix our roads properly? Currently, the Federal tax for a gallon of gas is just a mere $0.184 per gallon and was last raised by $0.03 cents in 1993. That’s nearly a quarter of a century since the last increase! Just using standard inflation, the tax should be around $0.26 per gallon today. Is a quarter of dollar really too much? Some people think the tax rate should be much higher than that; around 75 cents per gallon. In that way, real long-term improvements, such as Double Crossover Merging Interchange (DCMI) systems, can be implemented on a wide-scale.

Gas Map via Inside EVs

Gas Map via Inside EVs

Before you go getting all upset about taxes, I am no fan of them either. But I am a fan of good roadways, and if improving the roads will reduce the time I spend in traffic, I might just be willing to kick a little more in to make it happen.

Take a moment to consider that the average American buys around 601.5 gallons of gas per year. If you’re already losing $1,105.20 a year due to time stuck in traffic, it means that you’re in essence already paying a $1.84 tax per gallon due to poor roadways! Our current gas tax is so off the mark that it is costing you more money in the long run.

Infrastructure via Zero Hedge

Infrastructure via Zero Hedge

If raising the gas tax from 18.4 cents to 26 cents (or even higher) will reduce the time spent in traffic and cut our $1.84 hidden fee, then I am all in. I don’t know what the magic number needs to be folks, as I am no economist. But I do know that the gas tax needs to be set high enough that it ultimately saves me more money than it costs me. And for goodness sake, have the annual tax rate automatically increase with inflation every year, so that we don’t have to see some massive jump every 25 years when congress finally gets around to doing its job.

Gas and Diesel Taxes via Wikipedia

Gas and Diesel Taxes via Wikipedia

The gas tax (and diesel fuel, etc.) raises approximately $35 billion a year in revenue, with only 60% of that going to road maintenance and improvement. So, if the Fed is only spending $21 billion a year on our roads, and we need to spend an additional $237 billion in the next decade to get ourselves back in shape… well, I’ll let you do that math.

No matter where you stand on the gas tax, pro or against. It’s clear that something is going to have to happen, because sooner or later our crumbling roadways and bridges are going to force us to do something about it!

What do you think Nation? Is it time that we all chipped in a little more for the sake of our roads? Have we had enough potholes and traffic delays?

Keep driving my friends!

My thanks to Jeff and Larry for all their help with this article.

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Comments (44)

  • if the USA didn't pump billions in foreign wars, cia etc.. you guys would be a fcking rich country bathing in luxury.. but some of your leaders prefer playing warlords and manipulate the citizens with bullcrap terrorists that they trained in the '80s.. they should pay the politicians only when the people are happy with their decisions and not serve themselves as they wish.. the planet would be a better place

      2 years ago
    • This is not a problem reserved for just the US, problem politicians is a tale as old as there have been governments. Also, you would be foolish to think that The USA is not a rich country. Although, if we had controlled our spending better and...

      Read more
        2 years ago
    • we are filthy rich....you should visit. we have lots of fun. you should try to do the same! life's good. some statesand areas have better roads than others....just like where you live.

        2 years ago
  • those tax charts r nothing on the shit we have to put up with in the uk, especially with so many fuckwits running the place

      2 years ago
  • I crossed the I-35 bridge a few hours before it fell into the Mississippi, coming back from a photo shoot. A day earlier, I crossed it with my family. It terrifies me today to think about the “what if’s.”

    But should it even have been a concern?! Failed infrastructure in a country as rich and capable as this, and as dependent and passionate as we are about our cars and trucks, is unconscionable. It’s risking not just lives, but our economy and the health of the nation. We in the US are largely depending on the infrastructure efforts of 75 years ago, back when we patriotically put America to work. It’s past time to do that again, and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Not even close.

      2 years ago
    • It’s not a partisan issue because unfortunately neither side wants to do anything. I’d rather have it be a partisan issue than this, like global warming.

        2 years ago
  • The US is a transportation nightmare. From the smallest town to the Federal level theres gross mismanagement when it comes to infrastructure. Combined with the horrific lack of rail service, huge trucks are forced to share roads with small vehicles. This results in rapid degradation of the road surface and traffic bottlenecks. Furthermore many state DOTs are poorly staffed with people ill equipped to deal with the needs of modern transportation. Get the massive trucks off the highways and back on rail. Use only local trucking to go rail to delivery. Get the rail system fixed! Anything to unclog the roads, minimize large interstate truck traffic and properly manage the $ and maybe....just maybe something will change.

      2 years ago
  • Very well thought out article. Unfortunately while being an economic problem for us good ol' Muricans, it will boil down to politics. That is a lot of $$$! Politicians will fight for years trying to figure out whose pockets will get lined. By the time they come up with a solution, it will already be too little too late. I am typically a very positive guy, not in this case though. I feel an increased fuel tax is long overdue. And... I live in Pennsylvania, aka the state with the highest state tax on fuel!

      2 years ago
    • It is a problem that all politicians address even the big candy corn president addressed the issue a few years ago. But no one has a money plan due to as you said politics

        2 years ago
    • I agree. I'm in NY and some of the roads are beyond horrible.

        2 years ago
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