D, D+, D+ — those are grades from the American Society of Civil Engineers for Oklahoma’s roads, bridges and transit systems.
The ASCE is watching Washington this week in hopes a House and Senate committee passes a long-term transportation funding bill to start improving those grades. Former ASCE President Andy Herrmann said bad roads are making drivers nationwide pay for extra repairs and maintenance.
"It’s about $516 per year, per motorist, but in Oklahoma, that goes up to $626 per year from driving on roads in need of repair," Herrmann said.
The House and Senate conference committee is working to combine Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe’s DRIVE Act with a House funding bill. A long-term funding bill hasn’t passed in a decade.
One component could be an increased gas tax.
"It would cost, then, for a 10 cents a gallon increase, $50 a year. That’s $50 out of the $626, and you’d start improving and cutting that $626 down," Herrmann said. "And, you know, you raise it 20 percent, that’s $100 a year."
Since the 1950s, gas tax revenue has gone into the Highway Trust Fund, but the gas tax hasn’t gone up in more than 20 years.
Herrmann said roads and bridges are just the start.
"Water, sewers, levees, everything — it’s all infrastructure, and most of it is out of sight, out of mind," he said. "We have to start thinking about maintaining it and improving it."
In a national report card, the ASCE gave U.S. roads and transit systems D’s and bridges a C+.