National Geographic : 1979 Oct
One looks at a map, marveling at the system. Another checks potholes and despairs. Which pic ture's real? The map shows a 3.8 million mile network uniting every city and town in our nation. Sweep ing, fuel efficient, multi-lane In terstate Highways touch 90% of all cities, over 50,000 people. 3.2 mil lion miles of rural roads speed food and fiber to market. Urban streets and boulevards bring vi brancy to the city. It's easy to con clude, "We've the world's best road system." On-the-spot examination of those roads might create another image. Most were built 40 years ago. Early Interstate sections are 20 years old. The scene of 17 mil lion accidents last year, potholes, patches, pavement breaks and shoulder drop-offs seem to rule our roads. Drivers jouncing over those obstacles cry out, "Our roads are in terrible shape!" True, the system is outstanding. But roads take a beating from traf fic and the elements. After years of use they need maintenance, up grading, repair. The Highway Administration calculates up to $329 billion would be needed to restore worn-out roads to 1975 condition and maintain that condi tion through 1990. Costs are rising as accelerated deterioration and inflation take their toll. Mean while, fuel shortages restrict highway use revenues. Roads are vital to commerce, essential for emergency services, and impor tant to recreation. We must sup port state and national programs to preserve our valuable highway asset. Caterpillar machines and en gines are used in road construc tion and maintenance-our en gines power trucks. We believe the nation must give top priority to maintaining and upgrading our highways. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. W CATERPI LLAR Caterpillar.Cat and 0 are Trademarks of CaterpillarTractor Co.