The price of driving a car…

Its summer, and for most of us, images of hitting the open road on vacations or road trips are part of our collective memories.   I remember the unexpected pleasures (such as the Grand Tetons during sunrise) and the agonizing delays (one of which was a distributor cap that fell off a rental truck in western Texas).  But the open road is not where most of us drive, but in our local communities, heading to work, play or school.  Regardless of the distance traveled, oftentimes, we only think about the fuel cost it took to get to and from our destination.  How much did we spend on gas, or food and drinks along the way?  We often don’t think about the associated costs involved in owning a vehicle or even driving on the road.

However, there are relationships between driving conditions and the conditions of our car.  A recent article entitled “New Orleans without potholes? It’s possible, but it won’t come easy or cheap” discussed the difficulty in maintaining roads in the New Orleans area.  The article closed by referencing that road conditions will not be cheap to fix, nor will they be fixed in the short term.  Another article, this time in USA Today, mentioned that this not isolated to New Orleans, but it is systemic around the U.S.

So with the roads in the condition they are in, you think someone would make the leap between funding and roadway improvements, but such is not the case.  But this has been discussed in various forums, such as a New York Times article in 2003, several American Society of Civil Engineer reports (Failure to Act) and in my editorial last summer  However, as the nation’s roadways (and infrastructure in general) need a major infusion of capital, we may ask ourselves will our grandchildren think as fondly of summer vacations or road trips, or will they only remember the potholes, the rough roads, and the car repairs?

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