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 > Interstate highway conditions

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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 05/21/21 08:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wing_zealot wrote:

So the question is, how much are you willing to pay to fix them? Gas tax revenue keeps getting less and less, You willing to pay a tax per mile you drive. Or maybe we should just keep on putting it on the credit card and hand the bill to our kids and grandkids like the infrastructure plan under consideration now proposes.


This might be part of the issue, but the larger issue is the revenue that should be for infrastructure maint and improvement being re-directed to "other" things.

Having been in supervision and management of Heavy civil, heavy highway general contracting since I got out of college, and having performed work in about 10 different states, from my standpoint, alot of the country is in a lose lose scenario. Many states are so far behind now, that even in the best of times, they cant even keep up, much less get ahead.

The appropriation of funds is astounding, how much of the "transportation" budget gets used for other things.
We have a large project going on in Seattle currently. $450M project reconstructing the last part of the SR520 approach onto the Lake Washington floating bridge. Of that total contract value (design and construct), almost $200M of it is being spent to effectively improve the Montlake neighborhood and provide a sprawling park/nature experience for the peds and pedal pushers, by way of building yet another lid over the freeway that is about 1000% larger than it needs to be to simply convey vehicles and all other multimodal traffic over the freeway.

Talk about corruption....essentially the City of Seattle gets a free, massive, capital improvement project for it's residents and the transportation department and FHWA is footing the bill!


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Grit dog

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Posted: 05/21/21 08:51am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here's another, much smaller, but typical example of how far behind WA state is and how they can't seem to "scrape up" enough money to do things right.

I have another project that is wrapping up this fall (should have been last year, but WSDOT shut down all projects that weren't part of the Federal injunction to save fish. Because apparently the Covid wasn't an issue with those projects.) Or more specifically, the lawsuit against the State is large enough that the perceived "safety" of stopping work during the pandemic breakout was not as important as the pending suit.
Regardless, my project involved mostly, rehabbing 4 bridge decks.
To do this and not inconvenience traffic, over $5M of this $14M project, which is now over $16M due to bridges being in worse condition than the state "anticipated", was to provide temporary bridge crossings. (Even though it was obvious the direction provided in the original plans and specs was inadequate to fix even what you could see with the naked eye.)
Now that the structure work is "done", the things we pointed out as being still an immediate issue were ignored, and we are now re moving work we just completed to repair deeper issues.
None of this is that astounding, but what is, is that the cost of constructing 2 NEW bridges, in between the existing 4 bridges would have been roughly the same as the cost to put a $16M cheap bandaid on the existing ones.
Yes there was room, without demolishing the existing structures and yes the demo of the existing structures would have added another 30% or more to the bottom line.
But simply, there could now be new structures there with a brand new born on date and 75 year design life, with the same traffic capacity with the ability to economically expand later for additional lanes, for about the same cost as the bargain bandaid.

But to WSDOTs credit and thanks to the lib WA agenda, the REAL reason this didn't happen was because WDFW and WA DOE would not "approve" yet another structure or permanent impedance in the Yakima River without an egregious charge to WSDOT for "mitigation" fees.
7 figure mitigation fees. Heck, WDFW charged us $200k to do work outside the prescribed in-water work windows, which are designed around periods of low fish traffic and no spawning, even though we proved that the extra in-water work window we needed was also during non-spawning periods, with actually less fish activity.

Money just flies into the hands of others who don't have an actual verifiable impact or claim to it....and that affects how much gets done.

I could provide dozens of similar examples that are just mind blowing and have no logical or sound reasoning other than govt entities with their hands out, taking money form each other.

* This post was edited 05/21/21 08:58am by Grit dog *

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Posted: 05/21/21 10:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Not only do the different states control the money and how it is spent for road repairs, but in many, maybe most states, the actual contracts are issued by county or regional level highway groups.

In Texas we don't see it much on interstates, but on state and US highways the change when you cross a county line can be obvious.

We do have a state wide highway agency, but they cannot enforce minimum standards for contracts.

Since highway money is a source of power by local political figures, the system will not change much, no matter how much money is put into the highway system.

Maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age, but until we change the system with term limits, and the people taking back power at the local level, the higher national system will never change.


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Yosemite Sam1

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Posted: 05/21/21 10:31am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The state interstate system is the best argument for the administration's infrastructure plans.

The current conditions and the obstructions to go ahead of it quickly and urgently can only be called criminal.

dedmiston

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Posted: 05/21/21 11:15am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's a shame that so much of this is agenda-based instead of triaged like most private sector projects.

I live in a state that would rather clog major arteries to add HOV lanes instead of fixing potholes.

Look at all of the bridges in L.A. that are taller than the approaching lanes by a few inches. I'm no civil engineer, so I don't understand "how", but after the '94 Northridge Earthquake the lanes settled and the bridges stood strong. This created jolting bumps at every freeway bridge. The patches are a joke and it's still a big bump at every freeway bridge in most of L.A.


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ssthrd

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Posted: 05/21/21 11:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ajriding wrote:

We build beautiful roads and bridges in other countries, just not our own.
In our 50 States road contracts go out to the lowest bidder who has to use the cheapest asphalt, the quickest methods and the lowest paid workers to get the contract. Roads fall apart as soon as they are built.
In Europe they use high-grade asphalt with rubber bits to keep the pavement from cracking and falling apart, they do not hire the cheapest bidder. Their roads look like Main Street Disneyland.
Ours are terrible. Our pavement ends at the white line, pavement needs to extend wider than the road as water damage occurs because there lacks margins. Many many problems


Road surfaces have a design life of somewhere around 20 years depending on materials and design criteria. Concrete lasts longer than asphalt.

In my opinion, asset management rather than a builders abilities is the bigger issue. In a perfect world, there are minimum standards (eg, asphalt mix design) that are included in contract specs, and qualified (hopefully) inspectors onsite to make sure that the materials and methods used actually meet those standards.

If infrastructure managers have no idea about the life of the different parts of their systems, then they may get caught with their pants down when the road fails, the bridge falls down, the water main breaks or runs out of capacity, and on and on.... If money is not set aside, and planning is not done to ensure a continuous replacement program, big trouble is sure to follow.

I have been over the bridge at Lake Charles, and later heard that it's condition was not far above condemn status. Scared the **** out of me........

Good asset management needs good funding, but unfortunately, the bean counters and politicians have different priorities because they don't understand the needs required to keep the real world running smoothly.

My opinion of course.


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wing_zealot

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Posted: 05/21/21 12:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Grit dog wrote:

wing_zealot wrote:

So the question is, how much are you willing to pay to fix them? Gas tax revenue keeps getting less and less, You willing to pay a tax per mile you drive. Or maybe we should just keep on putting it on the credit card and hand the bill to our kids and grandkids like the infrastructure plan under consideration now proposes.


This might be part of the issue, but the larger issue is the revenue that should be for infrastructure maint and improvement being re-directed to "other" things.

Having been in supervision and management of Heavy civil, heavy highway general contracting since I got out of college, and having performed work in about 10 different states, from my standpoint, alot of the country is in a lose lose scenario. Many states are so far behind now, that even in the best of times, they cant even keep up, much less get ahead.

The appropriation of funds is astounding, how much of the "transportation" budget gets used for other things.
We have a large project going on in Seattle currently. $450M project reconstructing the last part of the SR520 approach onto the Lake Washington floating bridge. Of that total contract value (design and construct), almost $200M of it is being spent to effectively improve the Montlake neighborhood and provide a sprawling park/nature experience for the peds and pedal pushers, by way of building yet another lid over the freeway that is about 1000% larger than it needs to be to simply convey vehicles and all other multimodal traffic over the freeway.

Talk about corruption....essentially the City of Seattle gets a free, massive, capital improvement project for it's residents and the transportation department and FHWA is footing the bill!
With all due respect, this must not be a real problem because the same people making these decisions keep getting re-elected; for 20, 30 even 40 years.

Keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result and see how that works out. The infrastructure plan in the works now being a prime example.

time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 05/21/21 01:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Blazing Zippers wrote:

After traveling from North Idaho to Florida towing our trailer---I have to say the Interstate highway system is horrible! Dwight Eisenhower would be ashamed of the way our states and federal governments have allowed the roads to deteriorate.
the pitch after WW2 was to have a national highway system to move troops and equipment for if we would have to defend our own borders. For this primary function the interstate system is far better now than ever. JMHO


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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 05/21/21 01:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

^ I don't get into politics, virtually at all, but it certainly appears, in our state (WA) at least, the biggest voice, which happens to be in and around Seattle, also gets the most consideration.
Which outwardly appears like that should be the case.

But what happens is my Montlake example above. The highest population density in the state gets a new park. The space for that park is now an elevated structure over a freeway because there's no room for the park elsewhere. And why? So the city dwellers, who apparently like being packed in like sardines and walking their shitzerdoodle dogs with their Rona masks on, while stepping over homeless people passed out on the sidewalk, now want a "nature" experience to make them feel like their not in the middle of the cesspool that is called Seattle and that their shitzerdoodle has some grass or mulch to take a c rap on rather than next to the homeless guy where they have to make a conscious decision to not only bag their dog's poop, but the homeless guy's dinner from 2 days ago that the dog just stopped and sniffed which prompted the dog's bowel movement!

My cynicism is largely fueled by a meeting I just got out of, where a couple dozen user groups of that major city were assured through the last 10 years of planning that they would receive something we are not under contract to provide and the public sector "owner" whom we are contracted with is burying their head in the sand and deflecting to us, over a similar, but smaller scale issue to the above one.

Yosemite Sam1

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Posted: 05/21/21 01:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

time2roll wrote:

the pitch after WW2 was to have a national highway system to move troops and equipment for if we would have to defend our own borders. For this primary function the interstate system is far better now than ever. JMHO


And for which the recovery from the Great Depression extended and resulted into economic boom.

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