National Geographic : 1977 Nov
One looks at America's freeways and marvels. But another talks sec ondary roads: many outdated, in disrepair. Which reflects reality? We have 3.8 million miles of roads. Almost two million miles paved. 37,000 miles are wide, sweeping Interstate Highways join ing 42 state capitals, 90% of all towns over 50,000 people, carrying 20% of our traffic. Urban freeways speed traffic into and around cities. Highway fatality rate on our In terstates is about half other roads. Many expressways are beautifully landscaped, such a pleasure to travel, you're tempted to conclude: "America's roads are great. The work is finished!" Driving secondary roads and city streets is another matter. Most were built generations ago. Many are narrow, broken-up, patched, re patched, crossing antiquated bridges, and unguarded tracks. Hosting 13.5 million accidents yearly. Years behind today's needs. 60% in need of modernization or re pair. Travel these roads and you say, "Our roads are in bad shape!" Truth is, we have an excellent road system. But roads wear out with age and use. Some Interstate Highway miles are 20 years old. They need maintenance, repair. Older secondary roads are in worse shape. The total repair and mainte nance will take over $200 billion ac cording to the Department of Trans portation. Every delay increases the cost in terms of vehicle damage, higher construction cost later on and inefficient transportation. Near 90% of America's intercity pas senger travel is by road. We must be willing to fund a national policy that gives priority to maintaining that important national asset. Caterpillar machines and en gines are used to build and main tain roads and to power trucks. We believe America needs an efficient, total transportation system. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. Caterpillar, Cat and Blare Trademarks of Caterpillar Tractor Co.