Numbers from smart growth America seem to show that Montana's roads are looking pretty good when compared to the rest of the nation.
Telling people a recent report says Montana's roads aren't too bad got me some strange looks today, but it's true. According to a report from Smart Growth America, only 7% of our roads were said to be in bad condition in 2011. To the west, Idaho was more than double that at 17% and Washington, even worse, coming in at 27%.
"I think our network from cities all the way to the state highway department are in pretty darn good shape," said Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty. He uses a budget between six and seven million dollars every year. 800,000 of that goes towards just winter maintenance. He also said, "We're pretty happy with where we're at with the funding. There's always more we would love to do."
From 2009 to 2011, agencies across the country spent some $36.9 billion repairing, building, and expanding roads. Unfortunately that didn't seem to really do the trick because the report goes on to say that 21% of American roads were considered in poor condition in 2011. Montana spent $161 million on road repairs and preservation in 2011. You'll probably see the bulk of that money being put to work these coming weeks.
Montana driver Sage Brinkerhoff said "the snow pack usually does have such an effect and I see a lot of roads sink away depending on how bad of a year it's been and so when it's all melting you get to see a lot more of that."
Prunty thinks our state's tourism industry might be behind some of these good numbers saying "if you're hauling your trailer of driving your winnebago or whatever it might be, if you're coming through rough roads that may not be the most joyous idea."