Every long-haul trucker knows America’s roads and bridges are in bad need of repair and that congestion is getting worse.
But congestion aside, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) — the same organization that last year gave America a D+ for its infrastructure — has recently scored the top 10 states for being the best at maintaining their roads, bridges, rails and waterways.
No. 1 was Texas, which according the ASCE, handles more of the country’s cargo than any other state. In fact, Port Houston, the second-biggest port in the nation, surpasses Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, as the world’s largest petrochemical complex.
Texas scored 288 out of 400 points with 1.6 percent deficient bridges, an average commute time of 26.5 minutes, a major airport (Dallas-Fort Worth International), and a 20-year-old water system that needs $45.2 billion in improvements.
Indiana, which calls itself the Crossroads of America, was graded at No. 2, with the ASCE calling the Indiana Toll Road the state’s “crown jewel” because it’s so well maintained.
The toll road has been run by private operators since 2006, allowing Indiana to pay off debts and provide funds for other projects.
With trucking and others, tolls remain controversial, but Indiana is considering adding toll roads elsewhere in the state, according to the ASCE report.
And while everyone complains about traffic in Atlanta, Georgia ranked No. 3 for its well-maintained roads and its ports, which contribute more than $100 billion to Georgia’s economy and supports more than 400,000 jobs.
Georgia also got high marks for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which based on passenger traffic, is the world’s busiest. The report acknowledged, however, that getting to the state’s ports or the airport can be a challenge because of the traffic.
Despite Atlanta’s traffic, statewide the average commute averaged out to 28.5 minutes.
Ohio came in at No. 4, helped by its extensive rail network that carries an estimated 280 million
tons of freight a year. Also helping the Buckeye State is its central location, which according to Jobs Ohio, is within 600 miles of half the U.S. and Canada.
Ohio’s score was 261 out of 400, with 6 percent deficient bridges, an average commute of 23.4 minutes, a major airport (Cleveland-Hopkins International) and another 20-year water system that needs a $13.4 billion upgrade.
Capturing the No. 5 position was Tennessee, which got kudos for the Tennessee IMPROVE Act, which is replacing hundreds of millions of dollars in individual and business taxes with user fees to finance an estimated 1,000 road and bridge projects, with 30 of them already under way.
That’s on top of already well-maintained roads and bridges, the report stated.
Tennessee’s score was 259 out of 400 points with 4.7 of its bridges deficient and an average commute time of 25.1 minutes.
Minnesota was No. 6, with the ASCE report noting that the state has had to reexamine its infrastructure approach since the collapse of its Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River during rush hour on August 2, 2007. Thirteen people were killed and 145 were injured.
The state passed a $1.5 billion transportation bill this year that included $400 million for its Corridors of Commerce program started in 2013.
Today only 5.3 percent of Minnesota’s bridges are considered deficient.
Kentucky was ranked No. 7 for its “critical ports along the Ohio River” and the eighth-largest cargo airport in the world (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International). Finally, the Bluegrass State was lauded for its roads, which were said to be some of the best-maintained in the country with an average commute of 23.3 minutes.
Confusingly, Florida and Nevada tied for No. 8, and there was no position No. 9.
Florida was in the top 10 because of its role as a “major gateway to Latin and South America” and Port Tampa Bay, which handles 37 million tons of cargo per year and nearly 1 million cruise passengers. There are 16 international airports in Florida and the report said although some commutes are “painful,” roads and bridges are consistently well maintained.
Deficient bridges in Florida were only at 2.1 percent and the average commute to work was 27.4 minutes.