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As the Senate rushes to quickly push through a long-term highway bill before the funding deadline expires at the end of the month, a new report by a roadway advocacy group says more than a quarter of our interstates, highways and two-lane arteries are in poor condition.
For those navigating the nation’s roads and bridges, it’s a daily ritual in dodging potholes deep enough to cost a fortune in repairs. Ravaged by potholes and neglect, the roads have gotten so bad, they're costing each drivers an average of $500 in car repairs each year.
The costs are even higher for residents in big cities.
Nearly three-fourths of all of the roads in Los Angeles and San Francisco, more than half of the roads in Detroit, San Diego, New York and Cleveland and more than 40 percent of those in New Orleans, Denver and Seattle rank among the nation’s worst, according to Construction Industry Research, a non-profit organization.
“I would say the headline is that because of a lack of investment by all levels of government, motorists are paying a hidden tax,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group.
The cost to fix the damage caused by navigating such roads adds up as well.
The average annual repair bill is $730 in Omaha, $917 in Oklahoma City and more than $1000 in California, according to data from TRIP.
Those who make their living driving those roads feel those bumps on their bottom line.
"It's very expensive for us. We have nine vehicles. It's a multiplication many times on our expenses," said Tom Waters a limousine driver in Los Angeles.
In perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, this summer tour buses were ordered not to travel across Washington’s Memorial Bridge which connects Arlington National Cemetery with the Lincoln Memorial.
On a recent Department of Transportation tour, a guide pointed out how a support column for an entire span was corroded and chunks of concrete fall from the roadway above.
"All over the country, we're facing the same basic problem. Our infrastructure is falling apart," Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said recently.
There's bi-partisan agreement on that on the need to address the state of the country’s roads and bridges. However, the highway trust fund runs empty in just seven days. And congress still hasn't agreed on a long-term funding plan.
The Senate is now scurrying to secure a long-term highway bill before the funding deadline expires on July 31st and before the House goes into August recess on Thursday. The House has already passed a highway bill that extends funding until the end of this year.
House GOP leaders have already said publicly they will not bring up the Senate bill if it passes.
Meanwhile, most experts say the current 18-cent-per gallon gas tax is no longer enough to fund repairs.
"It is less expensive to fix our roads and bridges than it is to drive over them in rough condition," Wilkins said.