Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Area roads stack up well

By James Pilcher, jpilcher@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Huge potholes were a problem on The Ronald Reagan Highway near Blue Ash in 1999.
(Jeff Swinger file photo)
| ZOOM |
        Before you complain about local potholes, consider that a new survey shows we could have it worse.

        Greater Cincinnati's road system actually has one of the lowest rates of “poor” conditions as defined by The Road Information Project (TRIP), a nonprofit group primarily funded by the highway construction industry.

        The area, including Ohio and Northern Kentucky, ranked 37th out of 52 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 1 million when it came to having roads in the lowest category, which features those that are badly broken or cracked.

        The area had 14 percent of its roads rated as poor, and another 24 percent rated as mediocre for the year 2000, based on data supplied to the Federal Highway Administration by state and local highway departments. Those data included interstates, all state highways and surface streets used as major arteries.

        Rough roads cost Tristate motorists an average of $261 annually in costs like body repair, suspension work or new tires, according to a formula devised by TRIP. By way of comparison, the average extra cost in Boston (ranked worst on the report) was $513.

        Cleveland had 19 percent of its roads in poor condition, for an extra cost of $326, while 5 percent of Columbus' main roads were “poor” for $169 more.

        Louisville had 17 percent in poor for $437 extra; and Lexington had 6 percent in the lowest category for an additional $107 a year.

        The highway departments for both Kentucky and Ohio conduct their own rating system of pavement quality, and break each down by district. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet did not have 2001 data immediately available.

        The Ohio Department of Transportation said that in District 8, a seven-county area that includes Greater Cincinnati, only 1.9 percent of the 4,500 lane miles under its supervision were in its lowest category in 2001.

        “District 8 is in very, very good condition,” spokesman Brian Cunningham said. “Even with current budgetary challenges, maintenance and preservation remain our No. 1 focus, so that shouldn't change.”


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