Rhode Island’s roads among the nation’s worst
PROVIDENCE — It may not surprise Rhode Island drivers, but the state’s roads are in the third-worst condition in the nation, according to a new study by a national group of transportation officials.
More than two-thirds of the state’s major roads, the study says, are in either “poor” or “mediocre” condition.
The group that did the study, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, used federal figures for 2007, which classify roads in four categories — poor, mediocre, fair and good.
Measured two ways, Rhode Island is third-worst. Ranking the states by the percentage of roads in poor condition, Rhode Island comes in with the same ranking, with 32 percent of its roads in poor condition, after New Jersey and California.
Adding up poor and mediocre, Rhode Island again comes in third, with 68 percent of its roads falling into those categories. New Jersey and Hawaii are worse when counted that way.
Only 18 percent of Rhode Island’s roads were in good condition, the study says.
The 2007 figures are scarcely a surprise. If it wasn’t already clear that the state’s roads and bridges are in poor shape, the state Department of Transportation has been increasingly sounding the alarm. It says it needs $300 million per year for the next decade to repair the roads and bridges.
On Tuesday, state Transportation Director Michael P. Lewis said that “It definitely confirms what we said last year,” when the DOT put together a list of what’s needed to put the state’s roads and bridges back into good condition.
Lewis said he believes that Rhode Island’s interstate highways are in relatively good condition.
“Rhode Island’s interstates are in better shape than our neighbors,” he said. That’s because the state has focused on those roads, so that other roads are in worse condition, he said.
The states whose roads are in the best condition are Kansas, Florida, Nevada, Montana and Georgia, all of which had 75 percent or more of their roads in good condition. Georgia had 92 percent of its roads in good condition.
AASHTO primarily represents state highway officials, including the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, which normally lobbies for more spending on roads and bridges. The group said the study was based on Federal Highway Administration figures for all arterial routes, including interstates, freeways and major urban routes.
The study gets off to a dramatic start:
“Killer potholes. In a flash they can dislodge a hubcap, shred a tire, or even worse, cause a driver to lose control of a car,” begins a statement from AASHTO’s president, Allen D. Biehler, who is Pennsylvania’s transportation secretary.