Washington Near the Bottom in Road Quality

By Tom Bacon

To ratchet up the pressure on Congress to replenish the nation's road-building fund, the White House on Monday released a state-by-state assessment of crummy roads and bridges. It probably won't surprise Spokane drivers, who are accustomed to being rattled and shaken by potholes, that Washington has some of the worst roads and bridges in the northwest.

The White House survey listed nearly a quarter - 22 percent - of Washington's 84-thousand miles of highways as poor. Same thing for the bridges in the state. 26 percent of Washington's 79-hundred bridges were rated as structurally deficient or obsolete.

The report came out on the same day that the National Transportation Safety Board faulted the state department of transportation for sloppy permitting work in the truck collision which caused an I5 bridge to collapse last year north of Seattle.

Idaho highways ranked much better, with 11 percent of its 48-thousand miles of roads rated poor. But 20 percent of Idaho's bridges were ranked as deficient. Oregon, of the three northwest states, came out on top of the White House rankings with only 6 percent of its roads in poor shape.

The analysts also warned that letting the federal highway trust fund go broke will jeopardize thousands of jobs in this region - more than 13-thousand in Washington alone.

If Congress fails to plug the fund - probably with a short-term compromise solution - the fund could run out of money for state construction projects by the end of next month.

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