A difficult road ahead | TSLN.com

A difficult road ahead

Chris Clayton

DTN photo by Chris ClaytonWhile agriculture has evolved, rural roads remain little changed from what existed decades ago and are deteriorating as more and heavier traffic uses them.

OMAHA (DTN) – Farming practices, equipment and production methods have evolved since World War II, but in many parts of rural America the infrastructure that supports agriculture hasn’t.

“We’re farming the same land my grandpa did and we’re driving the same roads my grandpa built,” said Bill Even, South Dakota’s secretary of agriculture.

Farm-to-market roads, whether they are county roads, state roads or federal roads, continue to deteriorate, said Tom Williamson, president of Transportation Consultants Co. in Kansas City, MO.

“It has not had any investment in years and the trucks just continue to be more and heavier,” Williamson said. “And the farmer has to haul his grain further, because the local elevator is no longer a shuttle-freight elevator. He has to haul his grain 50 miles instead of 10 miles. The roads are one thing, but the bridges become frightening because a lot of those bridges were just not made for these big heavy trucks.”

“Being an agricultural state, we need to make sure our farm-to-market roads carrying our products out of the fields to the elevators are in good condition,” said South Dakota’s Rep. Shantel Krebs, who chairs a legislative interim transportation study committee looking at the budget shortfall.

“Some of the challenges we face with those roads, though, is they were built in the ’50s and ’60s and weren’t built for the 80,000-pound farm truck-trailer operation,” said Krebs.

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Even said it’s time the current generation takes ownership of roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure that moves this nation’s goods. He compares infrastructure to homeownership.

“Just like our homes, there are costs to ownership of roads,” Even said. “Somebody paid to build them and somebody paid to keep them maintained, but as our productivity and efficiency skyrocketed and our equipment gained in size, it’s time to fix the roof, and it takes money.”

Though the nation is spending $787 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this has failed to be the infrastructure boon many people expected from the stimulus bill.

The legislation’s spending on key areas such as roads, bridges, waterways and railroads – particularly in rural America – really falls short where it’s most needed.

“When you really dial in on it and see the breakdown of just how much money was allocated to infrastructure projects, it’s really quite anemic,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

“Particularly when you look at what percentage can find its way to rural America, it’s even less so,” he said.

The ARRA spends $85.3 billion on infrastructure or about 11 percent of the total cost. Only about $52.6 billion went to transportation projects – and the bill spends about $27.5 billion on roads and bridges.

“That money will barely make a dent in highway maintenance, preservation, and reconstruction needs,” stated the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in a study called “Rough Roads” released earlier this year. AASHTO states funding for all levels of government needs to reach about $166 billion annually on highways and bridges to meet the demands of an aging road system.

But the federal government set aside a $1.5 billion pot of money for competitive projects across the country. That program received 1,380 applications for $56.5 billion in funding requests. That’s 38 times the actual money available under the program.

OMAHA (DTN) – Farming practices, equipment and production methods have evolved since World War II, but in many parts of rural America the infrastructure that supports agriculture hasn’t.

“We’re farming the same land my grandpa did and we’re driving the same roads my grandpa built,” said Bill Even, South Dakota’s secretary of agriculture.

Farm-to-market roads, whether they are county roads, state roads or federal roads, continue to deteriorate, said Tom Williamson, president of Transportation Consultants Co. in Kansas City, MO.

“It has not had any investment in years and the trucks just continue to be more and heavier,” Williamson said. “And the farmer has to haul his grain further, because the local elevator is no longer a shuttle-freight elevator. He has to haul his grain 50 miles instead of 10 miles. The roads are one thing, but the bridges become frightening because a lot of those bridges were just not made for these big heavy trucks.”

“Being an agricultural state, we need to make sure our farm-to-market roads carrying our products out of the fields to the elevators are in good condition,” said South Dakota’s Rep. Shantel Krebs, who chairs a legislative interim transportation study committee looking at the budget shortfall.

“Some of the challenges we face with those roads, though, is they were built in the ’50s and ’60s and weren’t built for the 80,000-pound farm truck-trailer operation,” said Krebs.

Even said it’s time the current generation takes ownership of roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure that moves this nation’s goods. He compares infrastructure to homeownership.

“Just like our homes, there are costs to ownership of roads,” Even said. “Somebody paid to build them and somebody paid to keep them maintained, but as our productivity and efficiency skyrocketed and our equipment gained in size, it’s time to fix the roof, and it takes money.”

Though the nation is spending $787 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this has failed to be the infrastructure boon many people expected from the stimulus bill.

The legislation’s spending on key areas such as roads, bridges, waterways and railroads – particularly in rural America – really falls short where it’s most needed.

“When you really dial in on it and see the breakdown of just how much money was allocated to infrastructure projects, it’s really quite anemic,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

“Particularly when you look at what percentage can find its way to rural America, it’s even less so,” he said.

The ARRA spends $85.3 billion on infrastructure or about 11 percent of the total cost. Only about $52.6 billion went to transportation projects – and the bill spends about $27.5 billion on roads and bridges.

“That money will barely make a dent in highway maintenance, preservation, and reconstruction needs,” stated the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in a study called “Rough Roads” released earlier this year. AASHTO states funding for all levels of government needs to reach about $166 billion annually on highways and bridges to meet the demands of an aging road system.

But the federal government set aside a $1.5 billion pot of money for competitive projects across the country. That program received 1,380 applications for $56.5 billion in funding requests. That’s 38 times the actual money available under the program.

OMAHA (DTN) – Farming practices, equipment and production methods have evolved since World War II, but in many parts of rural America the infrastructure that supports agriculture hasn’t.

“We’re farming the same land my grandpa did and we’re driving the same roads my grandpa built,” said Bill Even, South Dakota’s secretary of agriculture.

Farm-to-market roads, whether they are county roads, state roads or federal roads, continue to deteriorate, said Tom Williamson, president of Transportation Consultants Co. in Kansas City, MO.

“It has not had any investment in years and the trucks just continue to be more and heavier,” Williamson said. “And the farmer has to haul his grain further, because the local elevator is no longer a shuttle-freight elevator. He has to haul his grain 50 miles instead of 10 miles. The roads are one thing, but the bridges become frightening because a lot of those bridges were just not made for these big heavy trucks.”

“Being an agricultural state, we need to make sure our farm-to-market roads carrying our products out of the fields to the elevators are in good condition,” said South Dakota’s Rep. Shantel Krebs, who chairs a legislative interim transportation study committee looking at the budget shortfall.

“Some of the challenges we face with those roads, though, is they were built in the ’50s and ’60s and weren’t built for the 80,000-pound farm truck-trailer operation,” said Krebs.

Even said it’s time the current generation takes ownership of roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure that moves this nation’s goods. He compares infrastructure to homeownership.

“Just like our homes, there are costs to ownership of roads,” Even said. “Somebody paid to build them and somebody paid to keep them maintained, but as our productivity and efficiency skyrocketed and our equipment gained in size, it’s time to fix the roof, and it takes money.”

Though the nation is spending $787 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this has failed to be the infrastructure boon many people expected from the stimulus bill.

The legislation’s spending on key areas such as roads, bridges, waterways and railroads – particularly in rural America – really falls short where it’s most needed.

“When you really dial in on it and see the breakdown of just how much money was allocated to infrastructure projects, it’s really quite anemic,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

“Particularly when you look at what percentage can find its way to rural America, it’s even less so,” he said.

The ARRA spends $85.3 billion on infrastructure or about 11 percent of the total cost. Only about $52.6 billion went to transportation projects – and the bill spends about $27.5 billion on roads and bridges.

“That money will barely make a dent in highway maintenance, preservation, and reconstruction needs,” stated the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in a study called “Rough Roads” released earlier this year. AASHTO states funding for all levels of government needs to reach about $166 billion annually on highways and bridges to meet the demands of an aging road system.

But the federal government set aside a $1.5 billion pot of money for competitive projects across the country. That program received 1,380 applications for $56.5 billion in funding requests. That’s 38 times the actual money available under the program.

OMAHA (DTN) – Farming practices, equipment and production methods have evolved since World War II, but in many parts of rural America the infrastructure that supports agriculture hasn’t.

“We’re farming the same land my grandpa did and we’re driving the same roads my grandpa built,” said Bill Even, South Dakota’s secretary of agriculture.

Farm-to-market roads, whether they are county roads, state roads or federal roads, continue to deteriorate, said Tom Williamson, president of Transportation Consultants Co. in Kansas City, MO.

“It has not had any investment in years and the trucks just continue to be more and heavier,” Williamson said. “And the farmer has to haul his grain further, because the local elevator is no longer a shuttle-freight elevator. He has to haul his grain 50 miles instead of 10 miles. The roads are one thing, but the bridges become frightening because a lot of those bridges were just not made for these big heavy trucks.”

“Being an agricultural state, we need to make sure our farm-to-market roads carrying our products out of the fields to the elevators are in good condition,” said South Dakota’s Rep. Shantel Krebs, who chairs a legislative interim transportation study committee looking at the budget shortfall.

“Some of the challenges we face with those roads, though, is they were built in the ’50s and ’60s and weren’t built for the 80,000-pound farm truck-trailer operation,” said Krebs.

Even said it’s time the current generation takes ownership of roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure that moves this nation’s goods. He compares infrastructure to homeownership.

“Just like our homes, there are costs to ownership of roads,” Even said. “Somebody paid to build them and somebody paid to keep them maintained, but as our productivity and efficiency skyrocketed and our equipment gained in size, it’s time to fix the roof, and it takes money.”

Though the nation is spending $787 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this has failed to be the infrastructure boon many people expected from the stimulus bill.

The legislation’s spending on key areas such as roads, bridges, waterways and railroads – particularly in rural America – really falls short where it’s most needed.

“When you really dial in on it and see the breakdown of just how much money was allocated to infrastructure projects, it’s really quite anemic,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.

“Particularly when you look at what percentage can find its way to rural America, it’s even less so,” he said.

The ARRA spends $85.3 billion on infrastructure or about 11 percent of the total cost. Only about $52.6 billion went to transportation projects – and the bill spends about $27.5 billion on roads and bridges.

“That money will barely make a dent in highway maintenance, preservation, and reconstruction needs,” stated the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in a study called “Rough Roads” released earlier this year. AASHTO states funding for all levels of government needs to reach about $166 billion annually on highways and bridges to meet the demands of an aging road system.

But the federal government set aside a $1.5 billion pot of money for competitive projects across the country. That program received 1,380 applications for $56.5 billion in funding requests. That’s 38 times the actual money available under the program.