Monday, March 30, 2015 07:02pm
North Adams, MA now: 39 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Home About Archives RSS Feed
The Independent Investor: Potholes Take Center Stage
By Bill Schmick On: 03:21PM / Friday May 16, 2014
Important
0
Interesting
0
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
0

Can you count the number of potholes you hit or narrowly avoid every day? Do they make your blood boil, teeth clench and trigger a choice euphemism or two during your commute? Unless the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) receives a $302 billion injection of funds this year, it could get a lot worse.

And I'm not just talking about potholes. More than one in nine bridges in this country is structurally deficient. At least 66,405 (11 percent of the total) are in sad shape and these are not out-of-the-way covered bridges that are rarely used. Americans have taken over 260 million trips over these derelict spans. They are simply accidents waiting to happen, like the one last month in Mount Vernon, Wash., or the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis that killed 13 people back in 2007.

President Obama is pleading with Congress to work with him in developing an infrastructure plan that would fund a four-year transportation program. It will not solve our infrastructure problems, but it will help. So far there has been little appetite by legislatures to embrace the concept. If they fail to act, the highway fund will run out of money by August or September.

Historically, the nation's transportation infrastructure has been financed by a gas tax of 18.4 cents established in 1993. In hindsight, that has been woefully deficient in keeping pace with the number of vehicles that use our roads today. The problem is that raising the gas tax or requiring corporations to pay more for infrastructure (an Obama suggestion) will probably not fly in an election year. So, instead, Congress will do what it always does, kick the can down the road by coming up with a stop-gap funding scheme.

If you have ever had the opportunity of driving on the Autobahn, you might ask how the Germans have managed to keep their highways in fabulous condition while keeping maintenance required down to a bare minimum. The answer, my dear reader, lies in the American past.

Back in 1919, a little known War Department publicity stunt organized a 72-vehicle convoy that journeyed across America. It required two months to make the trip. The roads west of the Mississippi were so bad that the convoy averaged a mere 6 mph for the 3,200 mile excursion. Along for the ride, was a young lieutenant colonel named Dwight Eisenhower. It affected him profoundly.

Forty years later, as the 34th president of the U.S., Eisenhower was finally in a position to do something about our road system. Starting in the 1950s, the Interstate Highway System was founded and developed 42,795 miles of roads across the nation. Once again, America showed the world what we could do when we put our mind to it. The goal was to get them down as quickly as possible.

The problem was that these roads were never built to last.

Of course, this sudden network of nationwide roads allowed the American family to enjoy cheap vacations, see the country and make the weekend drive an American pastime. Combined with fuel-efficiency gains, the ownership of cars exploded in this country.

That was bad enough, but what the planners did not count on was the massive shift by American industry from transporting goods via railroad to shipping them via the nation's brand-new highway system. Roads that were of substandard construction (although good enough to withstand the damage of 2,000-pound cars) were suddenly assaulted by convoys of commercial trucks. These rigs, weighing 80,000 pounds or more, do 40 times the damage (the mathematical equivalent) of the lighter weight cars due to a truck's weight distribution.

When roads are not properly sealed, water (ice, snow, etc.) leaks underneath the asphalt and settles in the base of the road, which is mostly compacted dirt here in the U.S. Big trucks constantly drive over these moisture spots driving the water downward causing air pockets that form over time the great American pothole.

The Germans know this, as does every engineer in the world. So some foreign engineers and governments choose instead to build extremely thick roads with solid foundations designed to prevent moisture from penetrating the underside of their structures. So why don't we do this? Because it costs more.

Obviously, in a country that groans and moans over the on-going cost of infrastructure maintenance, building better roads at higher costs is a non-starter. If we ban large trucks from our highway and bridge systems, then our roads would stand up a lot better than they do now.

Good luck trying to implement that change.

Given that corporate America uses our transportation system to help turn a profit, (rather than simply commute to work or see Mom on Mother's Day, as taxpayers do), would it not be reasonable to ask them to foot a larger percentage of the cost of maintenance? Reasonable, but probably political suicide for any elected official. I guess we will just have to settle for potholes.

Bill Schmick is registered as an investment adviser representative with Berkshire Money Management. Bill’s forecasts and opinions are purely his own. None of the information presented here should be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. Direct inquires to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or email him at Bill@afewdollarsmore.com.



0 Comments
     
News Headlines
Purple Valley Aquatic Swimmers Compete at Regional
North Adams Mulling Transfer Station Fee Changes
Berkshire Health Systems, OB/GYN Practices Partner
WCMA Receives Large Donation of Contemporary Art
Berkshire Bank Seeks Volunteer Projects
Williamstown Community Chest Seeks Volunteer Award Nominations
Greylock Federal Reports Strong 2014
IS183 and The Clark Joining Forces for Art Workshops
Former Williams President to Serve as Interim Director of Clark Art Institute
Kindergarten, Pre-K Registration Open in Savoy

Bill Schmick is registered as an investment advisor representative and portfolio manager with Berkshire Money Management (BMM), managing over $200 million for investors in the Berkshires. Bill’s forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of BMM. None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or email him at Bill@afewdollarsmore.com Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill’s insights.

 

 

 



Categories:
@theMarket (164)
Independent Investor (221)
Archives:
March 2015 (6)
March 2014 (1)
February 2015 (7)
January 2015 (9)
December 2014 (7)
November 2014 (4)
October 2014 (9)
September 2014 (5)
August 2014 (7)
July 2014 (2)
June 2014 (6)
May 2014 (9)
April 2014 (8)
Tags:
Commodities Stimulus Taxes Retirement Bailout Interest Rates Energy Fiscal Cliff Crisis Europe Stocks Debt Ceiling Metals Stock Market Euro Economy Pullback Europe Federal Reserve Congress Markets Currency Fed Jobs Debt Japan Election Deficit Housing Selloff Greece Banks Rally Recession Oil
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
The Independent Investor: Understanding the Foreclosure Scandal
@theMarket: QE II Supports the Markets
The Independent Investor: Does Cash Mean Currencies?
@theMarket: Markets Are Going Higher
The Independent Investor: General Motors — Back to the Future
The Independent Investor: Will the Municipal Bond Massacre Continue?
The Independent Investor: How Will Wall Street II Play on Main Street?
@theMarket: Economy Sputters, Stocks Stutter
The Independent Investor: Why Are Interest Rates Rising?
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: The Fed Does It Again
The Independent Investor: Financial Challenges Facing Single Parents
@theMarket: Pay Attention to Diverging Markets
The Independent Investor: Kids & Money
@theMarket: Home on the Range
The Independent Investor: Rise of the Smoothie
@The Market: Full Steam Ahead
The Independent Investor: New Fiduciary Rule Would Benefit All of Us
The Independent Investor: How to Make the Most Out of Social Security
@theMarket: A Race to the Bottom


View All
Spark Event @ Sohn Gallery
Sohn Fine Art in Lenox hosts a Berkshire Creative Spark...
Hoosac Valley Does 'Grease'
The Hoosac Valley High School drama team is producing the...
North Adams Chamber @River...
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce held its monthly mixer...
Birds of Prey
Julie Anne Collier of
Berkshire Chamber Nite @ UP
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its monthly...
Pitt House Series at Dottie's
The first in the Pitt House Concert Series was a sold out...
Berkshire Awards 2015
Lila Berle, Churchill Cotton and Mary Rentz were honored on...
BYP Networking at AIER
The Berkshire Young Professionals gathered at the American...
Berkshire Art Fellowship Show
The 12 Berkshire Art Association College Fellows for 2015...
Hoosac Boys Lose to Old...
The Bulldogs scored the next six points and later used a...
Hoosac Girls Drop State Final...
The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team ended its season...
Massachusetts Region I High...
Near 80 students from throughout the region met in the...
Mt. Greylock SEE Fund
Williamstown's community access television station,...
2OT, Sends Hoosac to State...
Jameson Coughlan scored on a baseline inbounds play from...
HV Win State Semi-Final
Last season, with 1 min., 30 sec. to go Bellingham was down...
Hoosac Girls to Western Mass...
On Saturday afternoon, it had a chance to hang one more...
Spark Event @ Sohn Gallery
Sohn Fine Art in Lenox hosts a Berkshire Creative Spark...
Hoosac Valley Does 'Grease'
The Hoosac Valley High School drama team is producing the...
North Adams Chamber @River...
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce held its monthly mixer...
Birds of Prey
Julie Anne Collier of
Berkshire Chamber Nite @ UP
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its monthly...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved