As inflation goes to the moon and Congress and a host of Executive Branch agencies insist it is not as bad as everyone thinks, I noticed some highway construction during a recent road trip. When talking to locals about it, they said it had been going on for years. This is a theme for road construction.
I wonder why?
Before plowing down this road (there is a pun in there somewhere), I noticed a local project that dug up a well-traveled side street in town. It only took them a few days to destroy the road, put in a new “line” and repair it. The repair job was pretty good, but as often happens with potholes, within a few months, the repair became, quite literally, a bump in the road. These permits (to cut into roads) are a theme in every locale.
Why are they allowed?
Technology exists to tunnel under roads, but in some cases, it is easier to simply cut up the road. It is not an easy permit to acquire, but obviously, it can be done. There appears to be no repercussions if the repair does not hold-up for more than a few months. It just becomes a maintenance headache for the city or county, but not for the company that need the cut-through.
During the recent road trip, I noticed some of this country’s Interstate Highway System is in disrepair. While annoying, it was, for the most part, not dangerous. Unlike some of the highways in the Northeast that have potholes that could swallow small trucks. Why can’t we fix them correctly and take action when newly paved roads do not hold up? Is it like other projects that get stuck in our judicial system making it costly and inevitably unproductive to prosecute? Who knows, but are these contractors blacklisted from other projects? I doubt it. There are not too many paving companies that have the capital to bid on some of these large projects. Fewer bidders mean more leverage. Good for business, bad for taxpayers.
As with many other government programs, roads and other infrastructure are problematic. Some projects are political in nature and the cloud of kickbacks and favoritism is rampant. The cost of these projects is enormous. The time they take is ridiculous. The inconvenience, time wasted, and vehicle wear caused to the local commuter is ignored. It is a price to be paid for the pretty new road.
We tolerate it.
Like other items mentioned in this blog, add road construction and infrastructure renovation and upgrades to the list. A rotating citizen group can evaluate projects and take regular feedback from commuters. Timelines must be compressed, work must be completed with alacrity, and the bid process evaluated. How can States, and the Feds, get more businesses involved in this endeavor. It must simplify the bidding process and encourage new players. It must hold contract winners liable for quality work and demand compensation for subpar completions . Poor performers should be excluded from future projects, and not simply companies. Too many times, a company’s actions lead to bankruptcy, but the same players simply form another company and do the same thing again. This is legal.
The citizens pay the price, again.