With the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill signed, many Ohio leaders are looking at how that bill may help Cleveland, Columbus, and other areas of the state. One key element includes $550 billion in funding for new and improved roads and bridges around the country.
Ohio District 9 Representative Marcy Kaptur says Ohio will benefit to the tune of $14 billion, including more than $9 billion for highways and $483 million for bridges. Much of that new investment is geared toward improved road safety.
U.S. Road Conditions
Americans traveled more than 3 trillion road miles in 2019, traversing more than four million miles of public roads. Unfortunately, according to the national transportation research group TRIP, 43.7% of those roads are in poor or mediocre condition. That’s more than 1.7 million miles of road. And another 15.4% is classified as “fair”. In short, well over half of the nation’s roads need work.
In 2021, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave Ohio infrastructure a C- grade. They found that 17% of Ohio roads were in poor condition and 5.4% of bridges in the state were “structurally deficient.” That’s more than 1,400 bridges. The report also concluded that the average Ohio driver pays an additional $500+ in vehicle maintenance costs each year due to poorly maintained roads.
It’s easy to think of road maintenance and design issues in terms of convenience or aesthetics, but the problem is much more serious. Poorly maintained or designed roads increase congestion, which means wasted time, increased stress, increased pollution, higher travel costs, and about an extra 3.3 billion gallons of fuel burned annually.
These same issues also make the roads more dangerous–both for those in the vehicles and those who share the roadways, such as pedestrians and bicyclists. The 2021 Dangerous by Design Report explains that the current design of many roads in Ohio and around the country make them more dangerous for drivers, passengers, and others on the road. For example, wider lanes may seem safer, but in fact encourage higher rates of speed (even when the speed limit is lower).
Similarly, too few, poorly placed, or poorly marked crosswalks can increase the risk to pedestrians, and wide, gentle turns can make both pedestrian/bicyclists accidents and vehicle crashes more likely.
And, of course, potholes, dips in the road, poor surfacing, poorly lighted roadways, poorly designed exits, and other conditions can all increase the risk of traffic crashes. So, why don’t cities and states make road design and maintenance more of a priority?
Road Work is Expensive
There are many reasons existing roads weren’t built for safety and haven’t been redesigned for safety or maintained in a safe condition. Dangerous by Design says one of those reasons is that in the past, cities and states have often prioritized speed over safety in road design. But even as many have begun to recognize the hazards certain roads present, and the danger of unsound bridges, one big obstacle has remained: money.
For example, it took 10 years to secure funding to replace the Western Hills Viaduct in Hamilton County. About 55,000 vehicles per day pass over the structure, which sometimes drops blocks of concrete from its upper level. The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are now hoping to have the construction of the replacement overpass completed by 2026. Meanwhile, the city has put up netting to catch the falling chunks of concrete and is inspecting the bridge twice a year to determine whether it’s structurally sound enough for continued use.
The project is expected to cost more than $330 million. And that’s just one of the 1,467 bridges ASCE has deemed structurally deficient.
Who is Responsible for Crashes Caused by Road Design or Poor Maintenance?
Often, more than one party bears responsibility for a traffic accident. Though this most often means that two drivers share responsibility–say, one cut into the lane in front of another without signaling, but the other was distracted by a text and could otherwise have avoided the collision. But there are a variety of third parties who may share liability for an Ohio traffic accident, including the employer of someone who causes an accident while operating the vehicle for work, the manufacturer or distributor of a defective vehicle or part that contributed to the accident, or the municipality or other entity responsible for road design, traffic signals, signage, and maintenance.
If you’ve been injured in a traffic crash at a dangerous intersection or that may have happened in part because a road was poorly marked, deteriorating, or otherwise flawed, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Of course, you may be unaware of these factors–that’s okay. The right attorney will ask questions and conduct the necessary investigation to identify all possible responsible parties and assess all possible claims.
The attorneys at Plevin & Gallucci have been representing Ohio injury victims for decades and are dedicated to building the strongest possible case for their clients and fighting for fair compensation. To schedule a free consultation, just call 1-855-4PLEVIN or fill out the contact form on this site.