The Capital Beltway, like many of the nation's roads built more than 50 years ago, is in a state of invisible disrepair. Beyond just a surface facelift, it needs underground repairs, which would require tearing out several lanes at once and working during night hours to avoid rush hour traffic. Nearly 2/3 of the Beltway's 64 miles are in Maryland, which recently passed a transportation bill.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. needs to spend an average of $250 more per person per year to provide long-term fixes to the nation's crumbling roadways, nearly a third of which need immediate attention.
To make up for the federal government's foray into austerity, states have adopted transportation plans that include gas and sales tax increases. They will need to triple transportation spending in order to bring roads up to date, writes Ashley Halsey III.
But is repairing the tens of thousands of roadways nearing the end of their life spans the best use of increasingly scarce transportation funds?