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View Full Version : Why are American roads/highways so ill-maintained (aka terrible)?



destroycreate
Nov 26, 2009, 11:39 AM
From traveling extensively throughout the world, and having grown up both in the US and Denmark, I've seen road conditions from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America quite enough times to create an opinion on this matter.

From what I've gathered, the US, out of most developed nations, has some of the worst quality roads I've seen. In Denmark (and elsewhere in Scandinavia and Western Europe), the roads are extremely well paved, painted and marked, and driving on it is always smooth sailing for the most part.

And then everytime I'm visiting my family in California, I'm shocked by how horrific the conditions of the roads are in, particularly in Southern California. I've also noticed roads being in bad condition all over the US though. What I don't get is how a country with such a strong culture and less emphasis on PT (unlike Europe) could possible have roads conditions that in many places, are near 3rd world? My boyfriend is from Tijuana, Mexico, and many of the highways there were much, much better lit (in SoCal many of the highways are pitch dark, not overhead lighting - in Denmark, every 6 meters or so there's a lamp above) and way better paved.

In California especially, many of the roads have potholes nobody tends to, different textures of asphalt/tar overlapping eachother, huge cracks, scraggily bushes acting as a divider, and much worse. In most of Western/Northern Europe though, the pavement is typically the same texture, very well marked, and in general, is just much more aesthetically pleasing. Again, I don't understand this because there's more of a push in Europe away from cars to PT.

What could this be derivitive of?

California roads (the last one being the typical eyesore):

http://farfalle1.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/california-road-surface.jpg

http://www.aatravelguide.com/california/i-005_sb_exit_016_03.jpg

http://www.sjcog.org/Horizons/April09Horizons_files/Horizons/pothole.jpg

http://photos.blogdowntown.com/2938258143_33b18104e0.jpg

German and Danish roads:

http://scatts.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/autobahn.jpg

http://www.thegermantruth.com/Graffics/Autobahn1.jpg

http://www.fdm.dk/billeder/hovedbilleder/slovakiet-bratislava-motorvej.jpg

PhillyRising
Nov 26, 2009, 12:17 PM
I saw on TV a long time ago that the road bed for German autobahns are much thicker than what we use here in US which is why they wear down faster here.

theWatusi
Nov 26, 2009, 1:11 PM
A couple reasons.

1. The US has many more miles of road to maintain.
2. The amount of studies/permitting before work can begin.
3. Unionized road workers make construction more expensive.

harls
Nov 26, 2009, 1:21 PM
The roads I've travelled on in the US Northeast were in great condition, especially the interstates.

R@ptor
Nov 26, 2009, 1:27 PM
A couple reasons.

1. The US has many more miles of road to maintain.
2. The amount of studies/permitting before work can begin.
3. Unionized road workers make construction more expensive.

While no.1 is true, 2 and 3 are even bigger issues in Europe than in the US. Due to the much higher population density in Europe road construction is a lot more expensive, because more noise barriers, tunnels, etc. are required.

IMO by far the biggest difference is the higher strain American roads have to endure, because both American trucks and cars are heavier than their European counterparts.

Don B.
Nov 26, 2009, 1:36 PM
The biggest reason? Some states are having major financial problems and can't maintain their roads properly because their residents are too cheap to pay the taxes necessary to support them.

I've always noticed how California's highways suck ass compared to Arizona, for example. We have rubberized asphalt everywhere, so in much of Arizona, the roads are smooth as silk. We also paint our freeways in vibrant colors. You then cross the Colorado River driving into California, and suddenly your car is shaking violently on the raw concrete, which is often pitted and rutted. Gray concrete everywhere.

--don

TAZ4ate0
Nov 26, 2009, 1:58 PM
I've always noticed how California's highways suck ass compared to Arizona, for example. We have rubberized asphalt everywhere, so in much of Arizona, the roads are smooth as silk. We also paint our freeways in vibrant colors. You then cross the Colorado River driving into California, and suddenly your car is shaking violently on the raw concrete, which is often pitted and rutted. Gray concrete everywhere.

--don

Yep...the freeway system in metro Phoenix, in particular, is smooth as silk, because of the rubberized asphalt. The road noise is also fairly quiet when you compare it to freeways using concrete or even standard (non-rubberized) pavement. But, huh? You lost me on the part about us painting the freeways in vibrant colors. Care to elaborate? :D

Stu
Nov 26, 2009, 2:11 PM
I'll take American roads/highways over the ones in Quebec.

harls
Nov 26, 2009, 2:12 PM
^ they're getting better though, especially in the last few years.

Don B.
Nov 26, 2009, 2:18 PM
Yep...the freeway system in metro Phoenix, in particular, is smooth as silk, because of the rubberized asphalt. The road noise is also fairly quiet when you compare it to freeways using concrete or even standard (non-rubberized) pavement. But, huh? You lost me on the part about us painting the freeways in vibrant colors. Care to elaborate? :D

You live here and you don't know what I'm talking about? Silly boy...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/City%20Photos/Scottsdale%20AZ/IMG_6637copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0681copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0683copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_3134copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0862copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_2771copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_2783copy.jpg

:)

--don

Stu
Nov 26, 2009, 2:20 PM
I don't travel much by car anymore but yeah, I've noticed in Montreal there is a lot of work going on to fixthe roads.

I remember though, a few years ago the difference of roads when crossing the Ontario or New York State borders was night and day.

TAZ4ate0
Nov 26, 2009, 3:36 PM
You live here and you don't know what I'm talking about? Silly boy...


--don

LOL oh yeah....the bridges and all. :)

I also like how some of the bridges have form and function. i.e the artwork built right into the design of the bridges.

glowrock
Nov 26, 2009, 4:09 PM
A couple reasons.

1. The US has many more miles of road to maintain.
2. The amount of studies/permitting before work can begin.
3. Unionized road workers make construction more expensive.

Not entirely true when it comes to basic maintenance, Watusi, especially for your reasons 2 and 3...

When it comes to maintenance issues, it's quite simple. The gas tax hasn't kept up with inflation, yet alone inflation related to goods and materials in the construction industry. As a result, maintenance is going to hell along with highway and road expansion.

When the U.S. gas tax ranges from roughly 25 cents to 45 cents per gallon depending on the state, and many European nation's gas taxes are in the $3-4/gallon range, of course there's going to be far more money available for public transit AND road construction. It's a no-brainer, actually!

Aaron (Glowrock)

MolsonExport
Nov 26, 2009, 5:36 PM
Christ all mighty, you've never seen highways in perpetually atrocious conditions until you've been to the province of Quebec.

vid
Nov 26, 2009, 6:11 PM
Quebec had a problem with overpasses killing people. :yes:

FREKI
Nov 26, 2009, 6:11 PM
From what I've gathered, the US, out of most developed nations, has some of the worst quality roads I've seen. In Denmark (and elsewhere in Scandinavia and Western Europe), the roads are extremely well paved, painted and marked, and driving on it is always smooth sailing for the most part.Not sure I can fully agree to that, where there is deffinetly roads in the US that dosn't get the investment they should, it's not like the same doesn't happen in Europe either..

Overall I've not had any major problems driving in the US, especially not on the main roads and while you do find bad roads it's not something you can't find in Denmark or elsewhere overhere either..


One of the main problems for roads are for the parts that get subzero temps - water will go into the cracks and as the temp change it will either subtract or expand cracking/deteriorating the material in the process


Personally the best roads I've seen have been in Japan...

NLJP
Nov 26, 2009, 6:16 PM
Christ all mighty, you've never seen highways in perpetually atrocious conditions until you've been to the province of Quebec.
Took the words right out of my mouth.

eternallyme
Nov 26, 2009, 6:25 PM
Even within states, there can be huge differences depending on maintenance regions. For instance, in Michigan, I find that the most populated southern region has the worst roads of anywhere I have been in North America, yet the northern part has pretty good maintained roads. That might be due to much less traffic, as well as fewer freeze-thaw cycles.

ardecila
Nov 26, 2009, 6:52 PM
The price of concrete vs. asphalt fluctuates, and government policy changes. Concrete is almost always more expensive, but also lasts longer, so when concrete (and steel rebar) drops below a certain price threshold, government views it as an investment. At other times, they go for a short-term fix by using asphalt.

The weight of American vehicles is also a problem. Also in Europe, many highways are tolled, which means that there is a steady source of income for road maintenance. Here, most interstates are free, so maintenance is whatever the state and federal government can afford at the time. Here in Chicago, many of our expressways were built with tolls, so maintenance and expansion on those roads is fairly reliable.

In addition, taxation levels are higher in Europe than the US, so European countries have more money to maintain and expand their roads, even ignoring the tolls.

edsas
Nov 26, 2009, 7:04 PM
Like others have already pointed out, road conditions vary greatly from state to state. California's terrible roads obviously have a great deal to do with the sheer size and population of the state combined with its ongoing fiscal crisis.

Go to Wyoming and you'll find driving to be much more comfortable.

ue
Nov 26, 2009, 7:08 PM
I dunno although I haven't paid an awful amount of attention to it, the American roads seem overall to be fine. But I haven't been to Cali. The Canadian Prairies perhaps outside Calgary have a lot of crumbling architecture. It's a tale of two worlds when you go from Winnipeg's biggest mall, recently repaved, to the streets of Downtown Winnipeg...crumbling.

This more has to do with the cold weather, and I'm sure up in Minnesota and New England and Michigan it is the same thing...the cold weather freezes the ground and expands therefore making it crack. Less noticable with movable natural features like dirt, but with hard rock concrete it cracks. So instead of wasting millions in the Spring on a problem that will reappear every year, the City instead spends money elsewhere and upgrades streets every few years. But they do look quite depressing, although if the urban scene was better, more walkable, transit efficient, and design concious in Canada's prairie cities outside Calgary (not trying to boost Calgary, but it gets warmer winter weather so it's easier for it to maintain its roads not to mention its really invested a lot in the above) it wouldnt be an issue.

My only issue that was big with American infrastructure was the lack of guard rails in hilly areas, valleys, mtns, etc.

Jasonhouse
Nov 26, 2009, 7:09 PM
Wrong forum, big time.

eternallyme
Nov 26, 2009, 7:10 PM
I dunno although I haven't paid an awful amount of attention to it, the American roads seem overall to be fine. But I haven't been to Cali. The Canadian Prairies perhaps outside Calgary have a lot of crumbling architecture. It's a tale of two worlds when you go from Winnipeg's biggest mall, recently repaved, to the streets of Downtown Winnipeg...crumbling.

This more has to do with the cold weather, and I'm sure up in Minnesota and New England and Michigan it is the same thing...the cold weather freezes the ground and expands therefore making it crack. Less noticable with movable natural features like dirt, but with hard rock concrete it cracks. So instead of wasting millions in the Spring on a problem that will reappear every year, the City instead spends money elsewhere and upgrades streets every few years. But they do look quite depressing, although if the urban scene was better, more walkable, transit efficient, and design concious in Canada's prairie cities outside Calgary (not trying to boost Calgary, but it gets warmer winter weather so it's easier for it to maintain its roads not to mention its really invested a lot in the above) it wouldnt be an issue.

Isn't it freeze-thaw cycles that cause major problems in roads? In that case, Prairie cities other than Calgary would have an easier time since thaws are less common...

Jasonhouse
Nov 26, 2009, 7:10 PM
You live here and you don't know what I'm talking about? Silly boy...

Maybe he thought you meant the actual roadway. In other countries, sometimes the road itself is a different color.

i-215
Nov 26, 2009, 7:24 PM
Los Angeles has such a mild climate, Caltrans really doesn't program the same maintenance costs you'll find in other states.

Here in Utah, I swear the lifespan for concrete is 10-15 years and asphalt probably five. It costs a fortune, but the roads generally are nice because they are constantly new. The freeze-thaw-freeze, plus salt, ruins good roads.

Opposed to CA-110, the Pasadena Freeway, which still has original concrete in places (60+ years old).

Busy Bee
Nov 26, 2009, 7:27 PM
I wouldn't underestimate many European countries underlying cultural preoccupation with high quality infrastructure and meticulous design. I can't speak for all of the US but I do think that to some extent, the underlying cultural thought seems to be "good enough" instead of "the best it can be." Specifically referring to the Interstate highway system, that has historically been the attitude as the Interstates were built for utility, defense and commerce and the European highway tradition is much more focused on recreational advantages of beauty, gracefulness and the driving experience. Architecture and aesthetically pleasing engineering were built into the [Central/Northern] European highways from the beginning—and this included a higher quality construction of both the roadbed and auxillary structures.

vid
Nov 26, 2009, 7:45 PM
Here in Utah, I swear the lifespan for concrete is 10-15 years and asphalt probably five. It costs a fortune, but the roads generally are nice because they are constantly new. The freeze-thaw-freeze, plus salt, ruins good roads

There are some roads here that get paved in October, only to have to be ripped up and re-paved in May. The street I grew up on had to be repaved 4 times in two years. They would have saved money if they just used a concrete pad in the first place!

The street I live on is 15 years old now and is actually in remarkably good condition for a downtown street with 15,000 AADT, but they regularly repair cracks and potholes on it. I even live beside a logistics facility and it isn't too bad.

SHiRO
Nov 26, 2009, 7:50 PM
The only road in the US I've driven on (and I've driven over 3000 miles in 10 states between NY and Miami) that was on par with European roads was in Maryland.

That said, Belgium has some shitty roads too, but roads in NL, D, F, E, GB, DK, S, LUX, CH and A are generally top notch.



EDIT- I looked it up and I think it was this highway:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_270_(Maryland)

ue
Nov 26, 2009, 8:33 PM
Isn't it freeze-thaw cycles that cause major problems in roads? In that case, Prairie cities other than Calgary would have an easier time since thaws are less common...

Well it's got to freeze from something right? And that is the summer. Things thaw a lot in the Spring time as everything melts. Of course we have less thaws in a numerical value, but the big melt of March, April, etc. is big. Calgary is a different story as it has different weather patterns than the rest of the Prairies, as does SW Alberta.

alphachapmtl
Nov 26, 2009, 9:59 PM
Why are American roads/highways so ill-maintained (aka terrible)?
-- Because the military and the wars get all the money.

BTinSF
Nov 26, 2009, 10:31 PM
One of the main problems for roads are for the parts that get subzero temps - water will go into the cracks and as the temp change it will either subtract or expand cracking/deteriorating the material in the process


Heat is hard on pavement too.

The US interstate system is mostly older than comparable roads elsewhere in the world and there is more of it. It's simply a huge task to maintain it--in some ways, more than it was to build it.

Secondary roads are mostly a state responsibility and some states do a better job than others. Interstates in Phoenix may be in good shape but secondary roads around Tucson may be the worst I've ever seen because of a combination of heavy use, harsh weather (100+ summer temps) and insufficient funds for proper maintenance from a state that values low taxes more than most.

Most CA roads are in decent shape. Florida roads were excellent back in the 1970s when I lived there, but not so much lately as use has grown while the state budget has gotten ever tighter.

The Chemist
Nov 26, 2009, 10:45 PM
Chinese roads are AWFUL! Even the brand new freeways have terrible, bumpy surfaces. When you ride in a coach even on one of the new freeways, you feel like your teeth are going to fall out. And the residential streets? Pitched concrete, cracks, breaks, you name it, it's there.

VivaLFuego
Nov 27, 2009, 2:01 AM
glowrock said it already, but I think the general reason is that our distaste for less-than-perfect roads is far, far surpassed by our distaste for taxes that would support higher-quality roads.

LtBk
Nov 27, 2009, 5:35 AM
The only road in the US I've driven on (and I've driven over 3000 miles in 10 states between NY and Miami) that was on par with European roads was in Maryland.

That said, Belgium has some shitty roads too, but roads in NL, D, F, E, GB, DK, S, LUX, CH and A are generally top notch.



EDIT- I looked it up and I think it was this highway:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_270_(Maryland)

I agree that Maryland has good freeways. The drivers on the other hand, are fucking terrible(not the worst, but they still bad).

Nowhereman1280
Nov 27, 2009, 5:39 AM
Yeah, come to Wisconsin, the roads here are very consistently maintained. The state has been converting most of its major 2 lane country highways to four land limited access over the last 10 years and probably half the major roads in the state are brand new concrete ribbons. Just about the only time they let roads deteriorate in Wis is when they know the road is in for a major rebuilding in the next five years. A great example was the state of US 41 which runs from Milwaukee north to Appleton/Green Bay. The road was originally two lanes, then they made it four lanes regular access, then partial limited access, and then completely limited access over a 20 year time span. That made for quite a messy driving surface up until about two years ago. Now its in the complete rebuild stage and most segments of it are brand new concrete and/or asphalt.

LMich
Nov 27, 2009, 8:34 AM
The US interstate system is mostly older than comparable roads elsewhere in the world and there is more of it.

I think this is a point often missed. It's not the only problem, nor probably even the best explanation, but the sheer size and the number of fairly independent jurisdictions we have to deal with are a significant cause of the state of many roadways. In most other nations, the percentage of federally-maintained roads is probably much higher than in the United States. The only federally-maintained roads in this country is the Interstate system, and even not the entirety of the money comes from the federal government (10% come from sub-federal jurisdictions)

It'd say, then, it'd be much better to compare a Denmark with a single American state; not the entire nation, given how much burden is put on our states, counties, and cities to maintain their own roadways. Heck, sometimes, you even have counties and cities maintaining things as large as grade-seperated freeways. There's a seperate DOT (Department of Transportation) for every state. I think folks often forget how piecemeal our nation is in most things. Our federal government has many fewer competencies all to itself than many people think.

SlickFranky
Nov 27, 2009, 10:24 AM
glowrock said it already, but I think the general reason is that our distaste for less-than-perfect roads is far, far surpassed by our distaste for taxes that would support higher-quality roads.

Bingo. You get what you pay for, and Americans won't accept higher taxes. And the taxes they do pay are disproportionately spent on defense. Infrastructure hasn't been a priority for decades, and it really shows in many areas. You guys should just bite the bullet and jack up the gas tax already, like every other non-OPEC nation.

ungerdog
Nov 27, 2009, 1:57 PM
And the taxes they do pay are disproportionately spent on defense.

This is insane. The government wastes plenty of money on things which they should not be involved. The government's main job is defense. The road conditions have nothing to do with the defense/war budget and attempts to rail against defense spending on a road condition forum is ridiculous.

American roads take serious abuse from freeze/thaw cycles, volume of traffic, high number of miles to maintain, etc. In addition, American roads carry the burden of moving an incredible amount of freight. The number of large trucks moving freight is very high. Sit and watch I-81 in Virginia sometime and you will notice that, at times, it almost gives the appearance of a freight train moving down the highway.

VivaLFuego
Nov 27, 2009, 4:13 PM
Bingo. You get what you pay for, and Americans won't accept higher taxes. And the taxes they do pay are disproportionately spent on defense. Infrastructure hasn't been a priority for decades, and it really shows in many areas. You guys should just bite the bullet and jack up the gas tax already, like every other non-OPEC nation.

I agree we should jack the gas tax (probably double it $0.36/gallon, then some sort of index to inflation thereafter), but bringing up defense spending in this context is a red herring. For the most part, federal highway and transit spending is entirely funded by the motor fuel tax, which funds the highway trust fund (at least, until recently when the trust fund's money started to run out due to the inexplicably low tax... so now we fund the trust fund the same we fund everything else: print money).

Defense spending comes out of general revenues (i.e. personal and corporate income taxes). Additioanlly, defenses expenditures including debt service are in the ballpark of 30-40% of all federal expenditures, depending on what you count. And entitlements, also funded from general revenues, are another 40%. Transportation spending is like 1.5% of the annual federal budget. So it's not like our road spending is competing with defense or other federal spending, really. It's just provided for via a revenue source (tax) that is too low given the sheer size and expanse of the road network that needs to be maintained. And America's fierce anti-tax sentiment means we'd rather deal with somewhat crappy but usable roads than pay an extra dime in taxes.

electricron
Nov 27, 2009, 4:52 PM
While it's true most Federal dollars for highways come from gas and associated highway excess taxes, that's not true for State, County, and City governments.

Local and State funding for highways is just as cash strapped as Federal funding. There's a specific funding mechanism to fund highways, broken down in percentages of the total. What causes most of the delays in repaving highways is not all the governments participating for a specific highway project have sufficient funds for it for a specific year. It only takes one government agency being slightly short of funds for a project to be delayed.

There's various reasons why a government agency to be short. Cost overruns on a project already under construction will steal money from a project that hasn't started yet. Economic slumps, nationally or locally, raises less money than predicted. Emergency repairs to structures damaged by accidents steals money from planned projects. Reprograming of the available funds left over from all the above causes from one project to another can delay a specific planned project for many years.

To add, increasing Federal highway taxes alone isn't the sole solution. We need to increase both Federal and Local highway taxes for more timely highway maintenance scheduling.

I also believe American highways are maintained just as well as in Europe. Asphalt and concrete highways are repaved regularly. What you may come across is a highway where repaving has been delayed a year or two waiting for sufficient funding.

Stratosphere
Nov 28, 2009, 5:25 PM
You live here and you don't know what I'm talking about? Silly boy...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/City%20Photos/Scottsdale%20AZ/IMG_6637copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0681copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0683copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_3134copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_0862copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_2771copy.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v22/don85259/Phoenix/Bridges%20and%20Freeways/IMG_2783copy.jpg

:)

--don
The colors you guys use to paint your roads/freeways only fit for the desert terrains (Arizona, Nevada, etc.) In my opinion, they look "kiddy" and "tacky". California is too green for these reddish/brownish hues.

electricron
Nov 28, 2009, 7:26 PM
The colors you guys use to paint your roads/freeways only fit for the desert terrains (Arizona, Nevada, etc.) In my opinion, they look "kiddy" and "tacky". California is too green for these reddish/brownish hues.

You can't please everybody. First it's potholes, next some complain about how the highway structures are painted. Those photos look much, much better than graffiti tagged structures or vehicles.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/10/06/automobiles/600-graffiti.jpg

Talk about being "kiddy" or "tacky", what's worse than graffiti?

Busy Bee
Nov 28, 2009, 8:11 PM
I'm torn between good mural style graffiti and that first picture. I think i'd take the graffiti. In all honestly I've never seen embossed concrete on interstate bridges or walls that I actually liked, coast to coast. To me all efforts to emboss or 'naturalize' concrete is pretty kitschy.

Pretend an interstate thoroughfare is an art gallery. The cars are the art. The interstate just need to be pleasant, minimal and functional—while feeling all around high quality. Does this make sense?

ocman
Nov 28, 2009, 9:59 PM
It comes down to taxes. Denmark pays among the highest taxes. Americans don't. So there lies the difference in financing public works maintenance.

jamesinclair
Nov 29, 2009, 1:11 AM
in SoCal many of the highways are pitch dark, not overhead lighting - in Denmark, every 6 meters or so there's a lamp above

Streetlights on highways are not necessary. They cause glare, are a waste of money and electricity and are environmental pollution.

Youll note in your picture, that highway signs in california have lights. It was recently pointed out to me that highway signs in Massachusetts do NOT. I never noticed, headlights make them clear enough.

DaveofCali
Nov 29, 2009, 2:47 AM
The biggest reason? Some states are having major financial problems and can't maintain their roads properly because their residents are too cheap to pay the taxes necessary to support them.

I've always noticed how California's highways suck ass compared to Arizona, for example. We have rubberized asphalt everywhere, so in much of Arizona, the roads are smooth as silk. We also paint our freeways in vibrant colors. You then cross the Colorado River driving into California, and suddenly your car is shaking violently on the raw concrete, which is often pitted and rutted. Gray concrete everywhere.

--don

Exactly. Within the past year, I've traveled around the country twice, once by car and another by greyhound, and I've noticed just how crappy are California's highways. Taking the greyhound bus in California (especially in L.A.), the bus shakes more. Your in Arizona, both by car and by greyhound, and the road is smooth, pretty much throughout Arizona on I-10. The Interstates in much of the country are pretty well maintained IMO, and I was especially surprised just how nice the interstates were in Utah. Especially driving through Arizona and New Mexico, there's a lot of road maintenance done on interstates during the late night / early morning (and you have to slow to like 40 mph.)

Though, on this regard, there is quite a bit of road maintenance done in L.A. at night, so something is done, probably just not enough is done. You've got to love all the different pavings done on a single interstate in California (when your driving through them, its rough one time, then smooth another, then rough again, etc....)

fflint
Nov 29, 2009, 7:01 AM
If you are complaining about driving, then you are part of the problem.

jmecklenborg
Nov 29, 2009, 8:23 AM
Most european expressways do not have a similar volume of similarly weighty trucks. American trucks are responsible for most road deterioration when comparing the nation's handful of car-only parkways to nearby interstates. For example the Natchez Trace Parkway still has its original pavement for most of its 400-mile length and it's almost totally free of potholes and other problems due to the lack of freezing and trucks.

Also, the decline in the federal highway trust fund is largely the symptom of increased fuel efficiency by the trucking industry. Trucks operated by team drivers run almost continuously year-round, thousands of miles per week. The increase in truck fuel efficiency from about 6 mpg to 8 mpg has decimated gas tax revenues.

The entire interstate highway system needs to be tolled in order to compensate for increases in fuel efficiency and the rise of hybrid and electric cars. Mileage-based taxes will mean the government will track your movements via GPS, which everyone should be opposed to.

SnyderBock
Nov 29, 2009, 5:07 PM
I think it's worth noting that over the last two decades, as tax collections have not kept pace with inflation (as was pointed out), road/highway maintenance/expansion has been slowed down from lack of funds.

So you are looking at the world's most expansive highway system at a point in time where it is at the bottom of a maintenance cycle. It's condition is worse now, than at any point since it's original build out.

This is why the USA is preparing for a massive re-investment into the highway system. For starters, the AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009 (ARRA) signed into law in Denver, Colorado by President Obama on February 17th, 2009 infused an additional $80.9 billion into US infrastructure, on top of the annual federal budget.

That's just the start. Sometime in the next 18 months, the US Senate will have to pass the next 5 year (or possibly 6 year) Transportation Spending Bill. This bill is expected to have a significantly larger budget than any recent inflation adjusted 5 year transportation budgets.

While there will be massive spending to modernize and upgrade the nation's highway/interstate system (and supporting infrastructure such as bridges), it is also expected to increase funding for mass transit and high speed rail by something like 40%. It is also to have mandates to reduce surface traffic generated emissions by 40% by the year 2030.

It is anticipated to breakdown to about $337 billion for highways; $100 billion for mass transit; $50 billion for high speed rail.

taking this into consideration, it would seem logical that in 10-years, all infrastructure will be in significantly better condition than it is currently. Will it be perfect? No, it would actually take $2.2 trillion over the next 6 years to repair and update all the nation's transportation infrastructure to an "A" grade level [SOURCE] (http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2009/). So the infrastructure will have to be upgraded more gradually, over the next 20 to 25 years, instead of all at once in the next 10 years.

waterloowarrior
Nov 29, 2009, 5:09 PM
The gas tax is too low... it hasn't kept up with inflation etc... and in many places politicians are too scared to raise it.

electricron
Nov 29, 2009, 5:19 PM
And you'll need to add gas taxes at both the Federal and State levels, as I tried to suggest earlier...

But I do like the idea of tolling all Interstate highways. Electronic technology exists today where that can be done without having toll gates.

Since Interstates carry the most traffic, tolls could finance building and maintaining major highways while the existing gas tax finances building and maintaining minor highways.

The best tax is a user tax. Those who can't afford the tolls can drive on highways without them, and may actually see more of the country from their cars than those using the cookie-cutter Interstates.

hammersklavier
Dec 14, 2009, 6:26 AM
There's one other factor, and that's the amount of funding each state's DOT has. Or perhaps even at the county level. For instance, I remember that in the Hampton Roads area the Interstates where utter sh!t to ride on, but that the roads around Richmond were okay. Or that compared to Maryland, Pennsylvania's Interstates (which I think are okay by interstate standards) are terrible, because in Maryland the Interstates are funded to the point where a single pothole merits a complete repaving. (Maryland's MARC system is also pretty good, which seems to indicate that they spend quite a bit more money on transportation than does, say, Virginia). The difference in quality is really obvious along I-81.

esirhgih
Dec 14, 2009, 11:02 PM
Partly, I think its a matter of perception. After two years living in Russia (which has terrible roads) I returned home and though that I-15 was the smoothest road on earth. Now, after being back in the US for five years, I can look at the same road and think how terrible and deteriorating it is.

Dan Denson
Dec 15, 2009, 12:56 AM
Good highways have always been a high priority in Texas. The legislature will budget for highway maintenance before just about anything else. I've noticed, though, that maintenance on the interstates has not kept up with that for state highways. Part of it may be a federal funding issue, and part may be the extremely heavy 18-wheeler traffic, which is very damaging to road surfaces.

City streets in this state are highly variable, depending on budgets and subsurface conditions, if that's the right term. Along the coast, where Houston is located, the black clay expands and contracts greatly, so pavements are often not smooth, even soon after repairs. In contrast, Austin has an excellent subsurface of limestone, so street surfaces tend to last a relatively long time. The limiting factor is more the amount of funds allocated. In the bust times of the 80s, Austin's street repair budget was cut way back, and about 25 years later, we're just now catching up.

sopas ej
Jan 4, 2010, 11:45 PM
As a kid, I remembering reading something about "California freeway hop." If I remember correctly, early in its motoring history, California used concrete for its highways and freeways, with equal spacing of the joints (California for the longest time has preferred the use of concrete for highways and freeways). By the 1950s, though, because of the suspension systems of American cars back then, this resulted in "freeway hop," which was unique to California-- While driving along, the spacing of the concrete joints made cars actually bounce regularly, or something, while driving a certain speed. So, this resulted in the later irregular spacing of concrete joints on roadways. In fact even today, while driving along the Santa Monica Freeway in the downtown LA area, some cars have a noticeable steady bounce while driving through that stretch.

I wish I could cite a source, but I really can't be surfing the web now since I'm back at work, but I just thought this would be an interesting bit of trivia for some of you.

Having grown up in California, I'm used to concrete freeway surfaces with the grooves in them. I feel like asphalt wears out faster and becomes more rutted, too, particularly in areas where there are a lot of big rigs.

ardecila
Jan 5, 2010, 12:27 AM
^^ So that's what that is! We have that on 355 here in Chicago. You can really only feel it in vehicles with a truck suspension, though, like heavy SUVs or school buses.

The Illinois Tollway has also used almost exclusively concrete, and since more than 1/2 of Chicago's expressway system is part of the Tollway, that's a lot of concrete. I'm used to the high-pitched whine of the grooves - whenever I drive on quieter asphalt, it always feels like I'm driving more slowly. The remaining interstates, maintained by IDOT, use asphalt a bit more often, but only in resurfacing projects. New or reconstructed IDOT roads are also usually concrete.

Asphalt here doesn't do very well; potholes and such form rapidly under the attack of snowplows. Cities with milder climates have nicer asphalt roads - Maryland has the best I've seen, but it looks like Phoenix also has very nice ones.

JDRCRASH
Jan 5, 2010, 1:49 AM
It really depends.

boden
Jan 9, 2010, 3:32 PM
It varies so much from road to road within states too. Take for instance driving to NYC from upstate. If I took you on the Taconic State Parkway you'd think NY had the worst roads in the world! Nearby however on the Thruway the road is fantastic.

isaidso
Jan 9, 2010, 4:47 PM
It's been my experience that US roads and highways are generally in better shape than Canadian. We have to contend with harsher winter weather, more snow and ice, and more salt on our roads, so the cost is far higher north of the border.

Still, this is a safety issue, so Canadian governments should just fork over more money for the maintenance of our road system.

rockyi
Jan 9, 2010, 5:38 PM
Around here, between the harsh extremes of weather, tons of road salt and snow plows tearing through every few minutes, it's no wonder the roads are terrible. By spring driving the streets here will feel like driving off road.

Cleveland Brown
Jan 9, 2010, 10:19 PM
It's been my experience that US roads and highways are generally in better shape than Canadian. We have to contend with harsher winter weather, more snow and ice, and more salt on our roads, so the cost is far higher north of the border.

Still, this is a safety issue, so Canadian governments should just fork over more money for the maintenance of our road system.

Take a drive down the 401 into Windsor and cross over the border into Michigan. Same weather, but even in the good times the roads on the US side of the border have been much much worse.

Blitz
Jan 10, 2010, 4:17 PM
^ True, but the roads in Michigan are the worst I've seen anywhere in the US.

rockyi
Jan 10, 2010, 4:39 PM
I always found Michigan roads to be very nice, at least the interstate from the Indiana border to Grand Rapids and the streets in that city. They all seemed quite smooth to me, not sure about the rest of the state, though.

Nowhereman1280
Jan 10, 2010, 6:33 PM
Yeah, the entire premise of this thread is not based in fact. There is no evidence to suggest the its true that the US has worse road conditions. In fact, in my experience, even compared to Spain, which has been on an infrastructure spending spree over the past decade, the US has very nice roads. Heck, most of the major freeways in the north half of Chicagoland have been rebuilt or repaved in the last year or two.

North Lake Shore Drive: repaved half of the way
Edens Expressway: Completely resurfaced
Kennedy Expressway: Currently being rebuilt downtown
Eisenhower Expressway: Large sections of it were just rebuilt or resurfaced.
I-94: This road has just been rebuilt from Chicago to the Wisconsin border. Its now all 4 lanes in each direction and all concrete.

On top of the freeways, Chicago just went on a spending binge that resurfaced tons of arterials and side streets. I'd say that about 20% of streets in my neighborhood got resurfaced this year.

The same applies for Wisconsin, its rebuilding, resurfacing, or even constructing brand new freeways all over the place. US-41 has been completely rebuilt, I-94 between Milwaukee and Chicago will soon be 4 lanes each direction and concrete for the entire 80 mile stretch. The huge Marquette Interchange has been completely rebuilt at a cost of 800 million dollars.

So maybe other states (I know Missouri has pretty bad roads in some areas) have problems but its certainly not an issue around here. I've actually really been enjoying (gasp!) driving around Chicago and back home to Wisconsin a lot lately. Four lanes of fresh concrete is a great place to speed.

c@taract_soulj@h
Jan 10, 2010, 6:48 PM
The worst roads/interstates I've seen so far are in Detroit. I've always said though that I love the road/interstate system you guys have. Simply because you take care of your highways (or so I thought) thanks to all the toll booth cash. If you could than work on the lights hanging off the wires, we'd be all set!

It's hit or miss here in Canada though too and it all depends on where you live really seeing as not every province puts the same amount of funding towards infrastructure. I'd imagine it works the same way with different states, no?

superduy
Jan 10, 2010, 9:30 PM
Why are American roads/highways so ill-maintained (aka terrible)?
-- Because the military and the wars get all the money.

100% Correct.

hammersklavier
Jan 22, 2010, 3:02 PM
I had to lol when I saw this picture of a French autoroute on Wikipedia:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/IMG_A4-A26-Echangeur.JPG

Look at the road condition! It's not terribly better than what you'd find in Pennsylvania!
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/PA_TPK_WB_Whitemarsh_Township.JPG/800px-PA_TPK_WB_Whitemarsh_Township.JPG

So highway undermaintenance is not a problem that's confined to the U.S. it seems... :P

Busy Bee
Jan 22, 2010, 5:48 PM
Regardless of maintenance, one thing the seem to have us beat on is design aesthetics.

electricron
Jan 22, 2010, 6:01 PM
Regardless of maintenance, one thing the seem to have us beat on is design aesthetics.

Not so fast, you're looking at winter vs summer photos. You might have a different opinion if the seasons were the same....

The Jersey barrier in the median is more likely to prevent cross over accidents, the sound walls will significantly reduce the amount of noise experienced by the neighborhoods nearby by 10 db, or by 50%. There's a lot of engineering differences between the two highways.

hammersklavier
Jan 22, 2010, 7:29 PM
Please note you're looking at the PA Turnpike in the image I posted of an expressway in PA. Other expressways can have the same barrier as the French example here--or even a wide grassy median.

FREKI
Jan 22, 2010, 8:12 PM
From what I've gathered, the US, out of most developed nations, has some of the worst quality roads I've seen. In Denmark (and elsewhere in Scandinavia and Western Europe), the roads are extremely well paved, painted and marked, and driving on it is always smooth sailing for the most part.Google Streetview has finally gone nationwide for Denmark so those interesting can take a look..

http://i45.tinypic.com/2j2uejm.png
http://maps.google.dk/?ie=UTF8&ll=55.605639,12.309601&spn=0.004788,0.028646&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=55.605643,12.309591&panoid=kUpnNnAttR_3Uckh_0elww&cbp=11,39.39,,0,-8.42

Like many places in the US and Canada we face winter temps balancing just around freezing so lots of salt and lot sof water sipping into cracks freezing, thawing, freezing, thawing etc

hammersklavier
Jan 23, 2010, 1:57 AM
But, FREKI, couldn't the overcommitment of maintenance resources on the road network have an adverse effect on rail maintenance (and hence, through the discontinuation of increasingly substandard services, on passenger rail)?

I note that although Denmark has such awesome expressways passenger rail in that country is especially lacking compared to its Germanic neighbors. You can take a fast train from Copenhagen to Stockholm (on conventional tracks, but still...) and from Hamburg to Marseilles, but what about the bits between Copenhagen and Hamburg? What about the bits in Denmark? AFAIK your national rail system isn't even electrified, much less built to pan-European high-speed standard!

FREKI
Jan 23, 2010, 5:54 AM
But, FREKI, couldn't the overcommitment of maintenance resources on the road network have an adverse effect on rail maintenance (and hence, through the discontinuation of increasingly substandard services, on passenger rail)?Seperated budgets, so not really - but let me ( again ) point out that there isn't any over commitment to the road network here - I do not share the view of the thread opener!

And while roads are generally of very good quality here I haven't had any major problems driving the US , atleast not on major roads and would not call the US roads "ill maintained" or "terrible" for matter as in the thread title..

I note that although Denmark has such awesome expressways passenger rail in that country is especially lacking compared to its Germanic neighbors. What?

Other than the German ICE there is not really any trains in neither Germany nor the Benelux countries matching that of Denmark.. ( at least not to my knowledge or experience.. )

I know it's off topic but allow me to post the Danish train fleet:

Inter City Express:
http://i50.tinypic.com/1qsxv8.jpg
Link (http://i50.tinypic.com/1qsxv8.jpg)

Inter City/Regional: ( both under outfacing by the model above )
http://i47.tinypic.com/szagz5.png
Link (http://i47.tinypic.com/szagz5.png)

http://i45.tinypic.com/262r62c.png
Link (http://i45.tinypic.com/262r62c.png)

Local Rail:
http://i45.tinypic.com/vscdb6.jpg
Link (http://i45.tinypic.com/vscdb6.jpg)

S-Train:
http://i46.tinypic.com/33u4ymp.png
Link (http://i46.tinypic.com/33u4ymp.png)

Metro:
http://i46.tinypic.com/op3eqp.jpg
Link (http://i46.tinypic.com/op3eqp.jpg)


You can take a fast train from Copenhagen to Stockholm (on conventional tracks, but still...) and from Hamburg to Marseilles, but what about the bits between Copenhagen and Hamburg? There we are constructing the largest bridge in Europe :)

Femern Bridge
http://i49.tinypic.com/2a7ylpe.jpg
Link (http://i49.tinypic.com/2a7ylpe.jpg)

Currently the trains between Hamburg and Copenhagen use ferry to cross the straight, takes about 40min
http://i48.tinypic.com/24yv9sw.jpg
Link (http://i48.tinypic.com/24yv9sw.jpg)

What about the bits in Denmark? AFAIK your national rail system isn't even electrified, much less built to pan-European high-speed standard!The primary parts are electrified but they have picked Diesel for many of the minor routes - why I don't know.. ( I'm guessing cheaper and more reliable )

Those electrified parts run on CO2 neutral power ( and they covers 75% of all passenger trips )

Somewhere down the line all main lines will be electrified but right now it's not sure where the main lines will be as there are many ideas to how Århus and Copenhagen should be connected with highspeed lines or Mag Lev, but it's still on the drawing board..
( what is on planned is the highspeed line to Germany over the upcomming bridge following the Køge Bay )

As for the highspeed standards no, it's a small nation who got the main lines laid down before most others ( back in the steam age ) so that is where most of the lines still run - and 150 to 180km/h was seen as fast enough under modernization where bridging the nations many islands were of greater importance ( and still is to some degree ).. if people can't spare the 2-3hours they can always fly...

Even without counting Greenland we are a nation spread out on 440+ islands so there are more important infrastrutural needs around than straight lines :)

( plus we are a suburban nation with more than a car per household - most who commute by rail still have a car at home )

LtBk
Jan 23, 2010, 4:21 PM
Other than the German ICE there is no rail in neither Germany nor the Benelux countries matching that of Denmark.. ( at least not to my knowledge or experience.. )

Those countries have good rail networks too based on stuff I read on SSC.

FREKI
Jan 24, 2010, 10:50 AM
^I should have said "trains" -( corrected )- but yeah both trains and rail there are fine.. we're just not subpar to it as suggested by Mr Hammersklavier

hammersklavier
Jan 24, 2010, 7:04 PM
^I should have said "trains" -( corrected )- but yeah both trains and rail there are fine.. we're just not subpar to it as suggested by Mr Hammersklavier
I didn't suggest you were subpar! American passenger rail is subpar--Danish rail is not. I was suggesting that more is spent on highways in Denmark than is in, say, Belgium (although not as much as Germany, due to its larger size and the importance of the Autobahn in its culture). I understand that infrastructure construction in Denmark is a challenge, too, but at the same time--how can your Ferrari-built trainsets be so badly late? :D

FREKI
Jan 25, 2010, 6:02 PM
I didn't suggest you were subpar! American passenger rail is subpar--Danish rail is not.You said, and I qoute:

"passenger rail in that country is especially lacking compared to its Germanic neighbors"

And I disputed that as I if anything after my travels in the nearby nations have come back with a very different view on that..
I was suggesting that more is spent on highways in Denmark than is in, say, Belgium (although not as much as Germany, due to its larger size and the importance of the Autobahn in its culture).I'm not familiar with the spending or budgets in Belgium or other nearby countries..

To my knowledge the Danish authorities spend what is needed to meet what has been made the acceptable standard and I don't think those standards differs greatly from the Benelux or Germany.. ( well you are still not in doubt when entering former East Germany but you know... )


I understand that infrastructure construction in Denmark is a challenge, too, but at the same time--how can your Ferrari-built trainsets be so badly late? :DBecause they accepted a bid from Italian Ansaldobreda that turned out to be one heck of a crappy company lacking the capacity to produce the trainsets they claimed ( as a result they have been fined heavily and have paid back billions ) - it's a deal that should have been cancelled many years ago, but with so much invested they desided to go with it and now we'll be stuck with the IC and RE trains shown above for a bit longer than expected..

The Dutch are btw going trough the same with that company..

hammersklavier
Jan 25, 2010, 7:26 PM
You said, and I qoute:

"passenger rail in that country is especially lacking compared to its Germanic neighbors"

And I disputed that as I if anything after my travels in the nearby nations have come back with a very different view on that..
I'm not familiar with the spending or budgets in Belgium or other nearby countries..

To my knowledge the Danish authorities spend what is needed to meet what has been made the acceptable standard and I don't think those standards differs greatly from the Benelux or Germany.. ( well you are still not in doubt when entering former East Germany but you know... )

Because they accepted a bid from Italian Ansaldobreda that turned out to be one heck of a crappy company lacking the capacity to produce the trainsets they claimed ( as a result they have been fined heavily and have paid back billions ) - it's a deal that should have been cancelled many years ago, but with so much invested they desided to go with it and now we'll be stuck with the IC and RE trains shown above for a bit longer than expected..


The Dutch are btw going trough the same with that company..
I was thinking in terms of high-speed rail. The Germans have the ICE system. The Swedes have the X-2000s. The new Danish units--and apparently the Italian company is one of the worst builders around, the Benelux' Albatross is also insanely late, and their Norwegian units aren't as cold-tolerant as they need to be--are still IC units incapable of developing speeds much over the 225 kph mark. Although I won't argue that without the massive infrastructure programs of the Great Belt Fixed Link, Oresund Bridge, and Fehmarn Belt HSR in Denmark isn't even possible, both the former two have been open for some time now and the Fehmarn line in Denmark crosses a single-track span and isn't electrified--it seems like the Danes could be investing more in their rail system, especially given the fact that the only really convenient land route from Scandinavia to southern and western Europe passes through Denmark! The Danish rail freight company can almost charge whatever they please, and this trans-European network has high European priority! Surely some money can be made available for HSR development between Copenhagen and Hamburg! It's not like the route's even that long!

FREKI
Jan 25, 2010, 8:23 PM
I was thinking in terms of high-speed rail. The Germans have the ICE system. The Swedes have the X-2000sAs I have already mentioned all that is in the works and it has not yet been desided how the cities will be linked up yet ( other than the new line down to the upcomming Femern Bridge )

The current lines and their layout do come from the steam age and thus is not suited for high speeds ( but nearly all main lines have been modified to support 180km/h - technically enough to cross the nation from east to west coast in 2h and asfaik also technically "high speed" by US rail standards :D )

My personal hope is for a tunnel/bridge combination from Zealand directly to Jutland (http://images.berlingske.dk/node-images/479/620x355-c/479433-jyder-kmper-for-kattegatbro--.jpg)that will be both the shortest and fastest solution ( MagLev on this route is still an option considered ) but it will also be very costly compared to modifying the current route over the island of Funen as it will still need investment bridge or not..

It will probable be some time before any of the plans are finalized - an optimistic hope is 2011, but a few years delay wouldn't surprise me as it will be the biggest infrastructure project in the Kingdom's history at twice the scale of the Great Belt or Femern bridges/links..
Although I won't argue that without the massive infrastructure programs of the Great Belt Fixed Link, Oresund Bridge, and Fehmarn Belt HSR in Denmark isn't even possible, both the former two have been open for some time now and the Fehmarn line in Denmark crosses a single-track span and isn't electrified--it seems like the Danes could be investing more in their rail systemOf course they could invest more ( a new route for the upcomming bridge is planned and so far the limitation for highspeed is to be found in Germany where they are only planning minor renovations to the current line - hopefully they'll change their mind now where their economy have improved a tad ) but if we want to keep our yearly surplus we need to spend the money wisely and on projects with a real need..

We aren't that many people here in the Kingdom to fund stuff and we don't have a "show off" culture - what get's funded does so out of a national need, not to please others or show off..

especially given the fact that the only really convenient land route from Scandinavia to southern and western Europe passes through Denmark! The Danish rail freight company can almost charge whatever they please, and this trans-European network has high European priority!Freight rail is dead in this part of the world, nearly all is done by truck nowadays in Europe as it's the cheapest and more flexible solution.. rail is used for passenger transportation here..

And as for the importance of the route.. rail is a slow solution up here - even with highspeed rail - as most capitals are divided by some 500+ km's making flying a both faster and much cheaper solution..

I can fly to all Danish airports for around $20 and to German cities for between $25 and $50 MUCH MUCH less than a train ticket would cost and in an hour where a train trip to Hamburg at best would be 4,5 hours..

Rail simply doesn't make sense in this age up here..
Surely some money can be made available for HSR development between Copenhagen and Hamburg! It's not like the route's even that long!Get the German's onboard and you will have no problem with the Danes..

ChicagoChicago
Jan 25, 2010, 9:02 PM
Quebec had a problem with overpasses killing people. :yes:
I shouldn't laugh at that...

But :haha:

LtBk
Jan 25, 2010, 9:13 PM
You know airplanes are faster if you don't count security check ups, getting to the airports 2 hours before flight, commuting from the airport to the city etc.

FREKI
Jan 25, 2010, 9:41 PM
You know airplanes are faster if you don't count security check ups, getting to the airports 2 hours before flight, commuting from the airport to the city etc.Well for these short trips it's just 45 min here before and if you don't have any luggage you can just check in online and show up when the boarding starts..

As for transport to the airport we have both Metro and RE trains going there so that's a short trip.. ( about 10min more for me than getting off at the central Station if taking the trip by rail )

( the CPH-Hamburg flight is btw 50min - the train ride is atleast 4,5hours )

hammersklavier
Jan 26, 2010, 3:47 AM
Freight rail is dead in this part of the world, nearly all is done by truck nowadays in Europe as it's the cheapest and more flexible solution.. rail is used for passenger transportation here..

While the rest of your post is accurate, I would say that saying that "freight rail is dead in Europe" is even less accurate than saying "intercity passenger rail is dead in the United States." (and Canada)

Although I'm not sure about all the circumstances in Europe, I do know that except for on the 200kph+ HSL corridors, freight is allowed to share rail with passenger traffic. Don't forget that the Berne-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) Railway is the largest private-ish revenue hauler in Switzerland in part because of the enormous amount of freight traffic that moves across the Simplon Pass and through the Lötschberg, and the DB Shenken has been reasonably profitable, even to the point of purchasing Britain's English, Welsh, and Scottish (EWS) Railway from the Wisconsin Central. So clearly the potential for freight moving is there, all across Europe.

If freight rail is dead in Denmark that would be the fault of the Danish state railways killing it off, much as a major part of the reason US intercity passenger rail is so poor is because the private rail companies did their very best to kill intercity passenger rail travel off after its profits plummeted after WWII and the Republicans, in forcing Amtrak to beg for their measly (half-of-one-percent) share of the transit budget, have put a very spirited effort into killing off what little that remains. With the Oresund and Great Belt Fixed Link Danish freight rail now has all the infrastructural tools it needs to leverage its bridge-line status between the massive Scandinavian and Teutonic networks and markets.

AvatarMike
Jan 26, 2010, 3:54 AM
^ True, but the roads in Michigan are the worst I've seen anywhere in the US.

Ugh, tell me about it:( Oh well not for long, once mass transit gets here, they will be wayyyyyy better:D

FREKI
Jan 26, 2010, 7:20 AM
While the rest of your post is accurate, I would say that saying that "freight rail is dead in Europe" is even less accurate than saying "intercity passenger rail is dead in the United States." (and Canada)

Although I'm not sure about all the circumstances in Europe, I do know that except for on the 200kph+ HSL corridors, freight is allowed to share rail with passenger traffic. Don't forget that the Berne-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) Railway is the largest private-ish revenue hauler in Switzerland in part because of the enormous amount of freight traffic that moves across the Simplon Pass and through the Lötschberg, and the DB Shenken has been reasonably profitable, even to the point of purchasing Britain's English, Welsh, and Scottish (EWS) Railway from the Wisconsin Central. So clearly the potential for freight moving is there, all across Europe.Well neither Switzerland nor Germany is part of "my part of the world" and nearly all freight in Europe IS done by truck..

If freight rail is dead in Denmark that would be the fault of the Danish state railways killing it offYes, the rails was freed up for passenger transportation and the bridges connecting our islands allowed for faster and more flexible transportation..
With the Oresund and Great Belt Fixed Link Danish freight rail now has all the infrastructural tools it needs to leverage its bridge-line status between the massive Scandinavian and Teutonic networks and markets.Yeah, but then we should decrease or even halt the passenger train frequencies and that isn't and shouldn't happen..

Trucks work fine, they can get around fast and deliver the cargo to where it's needed with out the additional steps rail adds to it..

FREKI
Jan 26, 2010, 8:00 AM
Anyways hammersklavier I think we're off no a sidetrack ( ...get it? :D ) I certainly don't mind talking rail, especially not Danish rail, but I think it's pretty off topic here..

So maybe if there is a better suited thread perhaps?

mwadswor
Jan 26, 2010, 4:28 PM
Trucks work fine, they can get around fast and deliver the cargo to where it's needed with out the additional steps rail adds to it..

Why support any rail at all then? Couldn't the same be said for busses over passenger rail?

northbay
Jan 26, 2010, 4:35 PM
freight trains can move a ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel (source: http://www.csx.com/?fuseaction=about.environment). can ur freight trucks beat that?

VivaLFuego
Jan 26, 2010, 5:15 PM
Why support any rail at all then? Couldn't the same be said for busses over passenger rail?

Different transport modes for different purposes. Rail is only cost efficient for shipping high volumes of something (goods or passengers) over a longer-distance trunk line. Trucks and buses are vital in the point-to-point movement of smaller quantities of goods or passengers. Depending on the nature of an economy (or of a built environment), the dispersion of origins and destinations for both goods and services may specify that trucks and buses are simply the more sensible option.

If you are delivering value-added finished fixtures in small volumes, chances are that a truck makes more sense. If you're shipping bulk commodities (coal, grains, ore, etc.) over land then it's foolish to consider anything other than rail.

The above isn't a controversial statement and seems self-evident, but people forget it when they start foaming at the mouth in favor of rail rail rail in all cases no questions asked. People need to understand that what works in Germany might not work in Denmark - this extends all the moreso that what works in China or France does not necessarily make sense for Florida or California. This shouldn't be a controversial statement but apparently it is. If you've priced/taxed fuel correctly to account for pollution and so on, then the market is generally capable of sorting out the best transport modes for a given situation without having to use the government sledgehammer. I would argue that US fuel is underpriced - solve that problem first and it shifts the entire transport market such that both passengers and goods will seek (1) shorter travel distances and (2) more rail, at which point government can respond accordingly via land use policies and transportation funding formulae.

FREKI
Jan 26, 2010, 7:40 PM
Why support any rail at all then? Couldn't the same be said for busses over passenger rail?Good question, we currently have a study going and so far it has found that on the small local lines in the Kingdom rail is upwards of 5 times as expensive per passenger as if the route was served by bus and with bus you'd get better flexibility and less maintenance needs further lowering the cost..

freight trains can move a ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel (source: http://www.csx.com/?fuseaction=about.environment). can ur freight trucks beat that?Probable not, but instead it can take the product directly from the factory to the storage or store without the need for multiple on and off loadings, handling facilities, delays or similar.. saving both time, manpower and money..

hammersklavier
Jan 27, 2010, 1:54 AM
The United States has had freight rail and highways coexisting for half a decade now.

Although when the Interstates were originally built, the resulting trucking boom caused a collapse in parts of the U.S. railfreight industry, particularly those companies servicing the Northeast where the rail transportation market was already totally saturated beforehand (there were no less than five(!) different mainlines between New York and Chicago--the New York Central, Erie, Lackawanna Route + Nickel Plate Road, Pennsylvania Railroad, Alphabet Route (CNJ + RDG + WM + some other companies), and the Baltimore and Ohio, as well as another five(!) railroads tapping the Poconos' anthracite--Erie, Lackawanna, Reading, Central of New Jersey, and Lehigh Valley) by 1980 in general the industry had stabilized and is now most certainly the most profitable and probably among the most efficient freight transportation businesses in the world.

I would further argue that the Berne-Lötschberg-Simplon Rwy. is exactly the freight railroad the Danes need to look towards--the situations are extremely similar: both networks traverse a formidable barrier between two or more large and lucrative rail networks--i.e. most BLS traffic is bridge-line traffic between SNCF, DB, and Trenitalia. The Danes also lucked out because there's no real railroad competition at all for the route between Germany and Scandinavia other than the Oresund crossing, whereas BLS has to compete directly with SBB, which runs the Gotthard Pass route, and the direct connections between SNCF and Trenitalia via the Fréjus Tunnel!

Secondly, one of the greatest advantages of an HSR system, from a railfreight operator's perspective, is the fact that it clears a lot of the busiest trains from the freight mains and so opens up a lot of scheduling leeway. Just as the United States railroads chose in the 1950s to concentrate on freight movements and handling to the detriment of passengers, so did Europe at the same time choose to concentrate on passenger movements and handling to the detriment of freight operations. America can learn greatly from European passenger patterns, but Europeans can learn equally greatly from American freight patterns, until the two balance again the way they used to.

FREKI
Feb 1, 2010, 12:18 AM
^I can't speak for all of Europe but here as already mentioned freight have moved to trucks and I don't think that will change ever as first of all it's a small nation you can cross in a matter of hours and secondly because the flexibility and speed of trucks get get it to other nations much faster than trying to squeeze in freight on lines already filled with passenger trains..

tomas.d
Mar 19, 2014, 7:12 PM
When the U.S. gas tax ranges from roughly 25 cents to 45 cents per gallon depending on the state, and many European nation's gas taxes are in the $3-4/gallon range, of course there's going to be far more money available for public transit AND road construction. It's a no-brainer, actually!

Aaron (Glowrock)$3.6 trillion to fix all US roads. The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

Priorities, priorities...

electricron
Mar 19, 2014, 7:52 PM
$3.6 trillion to fix all US roads. The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

Priorities, priorities...

Whatever your views on these two wars are, the smoothness of the highways should have a far less priority than our boys and girls faced with bullets flying by them. You would think likewise if placed in a similar situation.

Highways are important, but there will always be other programs competiting for funding that will have higher priorities.

Wizened Variations
Mar 19, 2014, 8:12 PM
Whatever your views on these two wars are, the smoothness of the highways should have a far less priority than our boys and girls faced with bullets flying by them. You would think likewise if placed in a similar situation.

Highways are important, but these will always be other programs competiting for funding that will have higher priorities.

As a police action veteran, I want to remind you that the problem too often is putting the soldiers in harms way to begin with.

Three of the last four major police actions (the exception being Desert Storm) have been a enormous waste of money, killing fields upon the local populations, and, a tragic waste of America's best.

The expenses of the last two stupid incursions and no new tax increases to pay for the wars, combined with enhancing a huge real estate bubble to create the illusion of increased wealth (how many millions refinanced their homes and cashed out equity), as well as a prescription benefit for seniors that was not paid for, bankrupted the US.

The bailouts and the QE program haven't been much help either.

******************

Going back to roads: we face consequences of a Faustian agreement made when the Nation did not pay as we fought.

There is no money left, outside of wealth. And those with wealth both fight such options and shelter trillions of dollars overseas.

So, the highways are just going to crumble, unless we eliminate unemployment compensation, slash medicare, freeze social security and eliminate the housing tax deduction instead. The dwindling middle class will have to pay the bill.

The best way to deal with crumbling highways is to drive vehicles with a large amount of suspension travel. Certain SUVs are good candidates.

A realistic solution: keep the Interstate system repaired and let the rest of the highway grid fall apart.

biguc
Mar 19, 2014, 10:19 PM
$3.6 trillion to fix all US roads. The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

Priorities, priorities...

Did you join this message board just to bump a 4 year old thread?

Jasonhouse
Mar 20, 2014, 11:33 PM
I agree. Not a good start.

pdxtex
Mar 21, 2014, 12:07 AM
why are the roads in america bad? currently tending to a bad knee from cycling, id say both my knee and american roads suffer from over use and too much load...its vehicular tendinitis.....americans are cheap and like to shoddily repair things, vehicles are heavy (ford explorer curb weight 6000 pounds, fiat 500, 1100 pounds). so like our fat ass population, so are our cars. oh yeah, and winter....tah dah....

pdxtex
Mar 21, 2014, 2:12 AM
Did you join this message board just to bump a 4 year old thread?

also, zombie thread! yeah i just noticed the date.....

Wizened Variations
Mar 21, 2014, 3:24 AM
Did you join this message board just to bump a 4 year old thread?

The irony of the "talking head" world. After a long discussion followed by no comments for four years, the roads are even in worse shape. :haha: