Where I’m from in Western New York traffic jams are usually a result of sheep, cows or horses crossing the road which is pretty much the opposite of our office in Mineola (quite a bit of congestion on the Jericho Turnpike during rush hour). My town’s about 30 minutes from the heart of downtown Buffalo and is the last bit of suburbia before you hit the plethora of small farms between Buffalo and the rest of New York. I couldn’t really have asked for a more beautiful place to grow up (unless you throw in New Zealand, then you win, by a lot…). There’s just one major problem. No, it’s not the economic situation in Buffalo, or our schools, or reclaiming one of the largest sources of fresh water on Earth from pollutants, or even the blended quasi-Canadian-Great-Lakes accent that some of us share. No, the worst part apparently, is the roads.
When you live in a state as big as New York and you share that state with New York City it’s no small wonder that the state government’s budget can get a little stretched. Buffalo and Western New York have long been without the capital investment to make necessary infrastructure improvements. Oops. The country roads I learned to drive on were pretty bad (and by that I mean really bad). The good part about it was I learned quickly to avoid pot holes, the bad part was if I hit one I could almost guarantee that my 1998 Jeep Cherokee would suffer some pretty expensive damage.
According to a recent report from the AGC of America, our rural roads have a fatality rate three times higher than all other roads and that 15% of those rural roads are in very poor condition. One of the Inn’s near me at home (which used to be very popular when I was a kid) is struggling to get business because the roadway around it has become such a safety hazard that people will no longer drive down it. Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the AGC of America just released the following statement in response to that report.
“As this report makes clear, Washington’s failure to adequately fund repairs to our aging network of roads and bridges I having an even worse impact on our rural roads than the rest of our transportation system. And while these rural roads may not be the ones most commuters use on a daily basis, they play a vital role in assuring the movement of hundreds of billions dollars’ worth of agricultural, energy and manufacturing products every day. Neglecting our rural road network needlessly risks lives and forces shipping delays that inflate the cost of fuel, groceries and countless other essential consumer products.”
With the Highway Trust Fund set to have its’ funding cut back in just a couple weeks we are likely looking at a genuine infrastructure problem. Without the necessary funding our infrastructure will continue to decay and highway contractors will see less and less job opportunities in the recent future. If you have something to say about the Highway Trust Fund please contact your state representatives. Our contractors and roads need you right now.