Don’t Mess With Texas

| December 12, 2008

Although Pennsylvania tops the Worst Roads list, highway construction has helped the state move up the most improved list.

Texas covers 268,601 square miles, making it the second largest state after Alaska. Spanning those miles across dusty deserts and through big cities are the best interstates in the system, according to readers voting in this year’s Overdrive Highway Report Card survey.

Pennsylvania led the list for worst roads. It and Arkansas have been frequent contenders for this dubious honor in recent years, though Arkansas and Pennsylvania also took the top two places as most improved this year.

Texas tops some other categories in the survey, as well: most available overnight parking, best truck stops, best rest stops (tie) and best automobile drivers. The state also was voted to have the worst rest stops, a discrepancy that demonstrates the variety of conditions in a state so large.

“The roads I travel in Texas are good roads,” says cattle hauler Rusty Dykeman, who has driven them for more than 10 years. “I hear a lot of guys talking, though, and they say Houston is a nightmare, but I don’t get down in that area.”

“Texas is always working on their roads,” says Robert Powell of Houston. “If there is a bad area, they tear it out and fix it. They have construction everywhere.”

Texas spends $2.2 billion annually on highway maintenance. The state has more than 48,000 bridges – more than any other state – and more than 3,200 miles of interstate.

Arkansas, topping the most improved list, is finishing its fourth year of construction. When the state finishes its interstate overhaul next year, it will have spent $1 billion.

“Arkansas is trying,” says Terry Fowler, a car hauler and professional driver for 30 years. “It’s better than it was, but they have a long way to go. I think they just waited too long to fix it. It’s just used so much.”

“They were pretty long past what they were built to handle, but there have been a lot of improvements in a lot of places,” says Glenn Bolick, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation. “We were not surprised that we were near the bottom of everyone’s list, but now we think we should be at the top.”

Arkansas has, in fact, dropped down the list of worst roads and climbed up the list of most improved. Pennsylvania, too, despite its reputation for bad roads, has advanced on the most improved list.

“Some stretches are a little better” in Pennsylvania, says trucker Dion Etherson of Prince Frederick, Md. “But they still need some repaving.”

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