A national organization has given Nevada failing grades for the safety and funding of its roads and highways. And the report card issued this week by TRIP also flunked Reno-Carson City area roads for the poor condition of driving surfaces.
The report said 30 percent of major roads and highways in the Reno-Carson City area have pavement in poor condition with another 20 percent are rated mediocre.
NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said if the report is talking about just the state system - highways and state controlled arterials - NDOT disagrees with that assessment.
"We've had some of the smoothest roads in the nation in national rankings," he said. He said road conditions in the north deserve much better than a failing grade, especially when the state, overall, received a B for its road conditions.
He also objected to the poor rating road systems received for safety. The north received a D and the state overall an F.
Magruder said the Reno-Carson area's fatality rate was 10.7 per 100,000 population, significantly better than national average of 14.7.
NDOT Director Susan Martinovich said the statewide fatality average is higher at 17.4 per 100,000 but that improving roadway safety is one of her highest priorities.
"We've adopted a Strategic Highway Safety Plan and are currently working with law enforcement, emergency personnel and local government officials to make our streets and highways as safe as possible."
But she agreed congestion - given a D statewide by TRIP - is a problem.
"We do recognize, taking into consideration the fact Nevada has been the fastest growing state in the nation for the past 10 years, that congestion is an issue," she said.
Martinovich said several projects are in the works to combat congestion both in the north and south.
"These super-projects will also increase safety," she said.
Frank Moretti, of TRIP, told the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee Nevada's problems are aggravated by its rapid growth and the double-digit inflation in construction and repair costs.
"Demands are increasing but the ability to pay for them is decreasing at the same time," he told lawmakers.
He said things will only get worse because, while Nevada plans to spend $506 million on pavement preservation by 2009, it needs to spend $1.27 billion.
Moretti said not keeping up with maintenance and repair will cost the state even more in the long run.
The TRIP report agrees with some of the conclusions reached last year by the Governor's Blue Ribbon Task Force on road and highway needs. That report complained of severe congestion particularly in Southern Nevada but also growing congestion in the Reno-Carson City area. It also identified a total of $3.8 billion in unfunded needs between now and 2015 for new construction.
While the task force made a number of recommendations to increase fees and other revenue sources to the highway fund, Gov. Jim Gibbons has not indicated support for any of those increases.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.