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America's Infrastructure Crisis Is Really a Maintenance Crisis

Here's what we can do about it.
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Washington State DOT / Flickr

It's long been time to focus more on maintaining America's existing roads and less on building new ones. The National Highway System already connects virtually all of the areas worth connecting. Driving peaked circa 2004—and even earlier in some states. Traffic remains bad in many metros, but by itself expanding road networks can only temporarily alleviate the problem, and over time might even increase it.

And yet we build. We build without seeming to appreciate that every mile of fresh new road will one day become a mile of crumbling old road that needs additional attention. We build even though our pot of road funding requires increasingly creative (and arguably illegal) solutions to stay anything other than empty.