A new report by King County Road Services says that 40 percent of the county's roads and 28 bridges will need to be closed in the next three decades if they're not significantly repaired. The numbers are in line with the rest of the country's crumbling infrastructure. And despite President Obama approving another $50 billion toward roadway improvements last month, which augmented his already hefty ante of about $48 billion in the original stimulus package, most analysts say that much more will be needed to truly keep the country's roads up to snuff.
* An estimated 110 miles of arterial roads are nearing the end of their useful life and are in need of complete reconstruction.
* Thirty-five bridges need to be replaced by 2040, but 28 of them have no funding for replacement.
* Other than the widening of Novelty Hill Road in East King County, there is no more funding available for capacity projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion.
* Continued road and bridge deterioration will cause partial or complete closures, lengthy detours and load limits on trucks.
* Half or more of the county's drainage infrastructure that protects roads and prevents local flooding cannot be adequately maintained with current and future resources.
* Less than 60 percent of overall system maintenance and preservation needs can be met in the coming years.
* As soon as this winter, snow and ice removal will scaled back and provided on a priority basis in order to focus resources on keeping key arterials and other major travel routes open to traffic.
* A single major flood or windstorm could have a crippling effect on the ability of road crews to quickly repair significant damage in the seasons ahead.
* Roadside litter pick-up will have to be eliminated beginning in 2011.
Nationally, King County's road woes tell a familiar story. The American Society of Civil Engineers says it will take $2.2 trillion (that's trillion with a "T") to fix all the busted bridges and decaying roads in the country. A study this year by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said that more than 90,000 miles of roads and 70,000 bridges are unsound. The same report said that U.S. drivers pay between $350 and $750 per year that goes toward road maintenance, with the worst city being Los Angeles.
Anyone who forgot about what aging bridges can lead to need only remember the 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 people.