Nationwide, billions of dollars are invested in roadway networks by municipal, state and federal governments. It is not uncommon for the smallest municipalities to spend upwards of 1 million dollars per mile of roadway. This means that even very small municipal districts could be sitting on a 100 million dollar infrastructure asset that needs to be maintained. A roadway network that is taken care of properly will provide many economic and social advantages to a city, as well as its people.
Roadway networks form the economic backbone of a community. They provide means for goods to be exchanged, commerce to flourish and commercial enterprises to generate revenue. Higher pavement network quality is strongly correlated with increased household incomes, and provides a valuable incentive to attract new businesses and other outside investments.
On top of the economic boons, the social benefits of a well-maintained pavement network cannot be overstated. Increased social integration promotes diversity, a greater sense of community, and reduced income inequality throughout a city.
Roadways Drive Investments
The quality of the roadway is likely among the first things a visitor will notice upon touring a city. First impressions are important, and each and every visitor should be seen as a potential investor in the community. Pavement segments that have an aesthetic appeal are likely to draw increased investments such as high income residential neighborhoods and more high-end shopping districts. Likewise, a well maintained industrial network will attract large investments in factories and other major job creators. Balancing the maintenance of these networks with limited budgets is a major challenge that all municipalities face.
Impacts of a Degrading Network
The devastating impacts of a deteriorating and improperly maintained pavement network are anything but subtle, and can actually take quite a toll. Poor road conditions increase fuel and tire consumption while shortening intervals between vehicle repair and maintenance. In turn, these roads result in delayed or more expensive deliveries for businesses and consumers. This can lead to rapid divestment from industry and residents in your city; the consequence of which is difficult to quantify and may take decades to completely recover from.
Neglect of a pavement network could also put your city in the crosshairs of multiple civil lawsuits from personal injury or even a failure to comply with ADA standards. When cutting transportation budgets, local governments should be aware of the adverse consequences that may bring about important and unanticipated welfare effects on a community, damaging the social fabric of a city through the mismanagement of pavement.
Letting your pavement infrastructure funding slide can send you down a slippery slope of greater investment requirements over time and reduced service to the public. As a segment of pavement ages, aesthetic defects begin to give way to load associated distresses. Load associated distresses, such as alligator cracking or wheel path rutting, are directly related to traffic loading and structural capacity. The appearance of these pavement distresses indicates that the base structure of a road is beginning to fail, and much more expensive rehabilitation activities will be needed to restore the road to good condition and prolong its lifespan.
Doing it Right (for) the First Time
A well-managed pavement network brings a high level or service and pride to a city. This in turn attracts investments in business and industry, as well as fosters a healthy, diverse and prosperous community. Conversely, a poorly maintained pavement network suffers from an increasingly unmanageable deteriorating asset, poor service to a community and divestment from local businesses and industry.
Governments at all levels must wake up to the importance of a proactive maintenance approach when dealing with their pavement network. A city’s pavement network is akin to a circulatory system through which your community lives and breathes. The impacts of choking that system should not be taken lightly.
If learning about the advantages of well-maintained pavement got your blood flowing, check out our article, "How to Spot a Failing Asphalt Street". Learn how you can recognize a street that is in serious need of repairs.