In fact, no matter whose numbers you look at, Connecticut’s roads are a mess. The Reason Foundation’s 23rd annual report on highway performance rated our highway system 46th among all states. We ranked near the bottom in several categories measuring infrastructure quality, including 48th for urban Interstate pavement condition, 44th for deficient bridges, and 35th for rural Interstate pavement condition.
The Reason Foundation ranks each state’s highways based on data that state highway agencies submitted to the federal government for the year 2015. Then again, it’s a libertarian outfit, so you have to wonder what the proper libertarian position is on public roads and highways. “You want roads? Build ’em yourself!” seems like one possibility.
But the most shocking thing Reason reported was that Connecticut spent $99,417 per mile just on administrative costs for its highway system — the most in the nation, almost 10 times the national average, and $22,000 more than the 49th-ranked Massachusetts. For which we get … what?
As for the roadways themselves, other sources (such as 24/7 Wall St., Truckerpath.com, CNBC.com, USA Today and Connecticut Magazine) pretty much all say Connecticut is the pits, pretty much because the U.S. Department of Transportation rates our roads as 73 percent “poor or mediocre” and our bridges as 35 percent “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”
By another account, 57 percent of our roads are “in poor condition.” Or else 44.5 percent of our roads are “poor” and 34.5 percent of our bridges are “deficient.” And the average Connecticut motorist pays $864 per year to fix the damage from driving on bad roads, and that adds up to $2.2 billion annually. CNBC has us tied with Illinois for the worst roads in the nation. Here’s a quote from them: “All three states in the New York City metropolitan area rank among the bottom for infrastructure, and Connecticut is worst of all.” Nice.
The national transportation research group TRIP and the American Society of Civil Engineers analyzed federal government data and concluded in separate studies that nearly all states’ roads are in better condition than those in Connecticut. Only 11 percent of our urban roads were considered to be in “good” condition. TRIP ranks the pavement in the Bridgeport-Stamford area as the worst in New England.
The worst stretch, highway-wise, is probably I-95 through Bridgeport, but the state’s position is that the 3,734 miles of state-maintained roads are getting a bum rap, and poor conditions on the 80 percent of Connecticut’s roads that are maintained by cities and towns lower the overall rankings. Whatever.
As for potholes, we all have our favorites. All I know is that when I drive down to the Chamberlain Highway to go to work, I have to straddle a deep pothole in front of Rich & Dee’s house. And it just gets worse the closer you get to Meriden. And there’s that one on Bradley Avenue. And the one out on Corbin Avenue in New Britain that practically swallowed my car the other night, and I never saw it coming.
Unfortunately, Connecticut is broke and the governor’s 30-year, multibillion-dollar transportation master plan is doomed. Oh well, at least we’ve got the busway.
Reach Glenn Richter at email@example.com.