I remember a conversation with an editorial board colleague who was quite disturbed that critical road projects were being deferred by elected officials. She warned the local economy would be threatened if commuters and commerce were one day not able to travel safely and swiftly.

That astute colleague was not anyone I work with now; this was at another newspaper about 20 years ago. And that tells you how long we have been failing to adequately take care of our roads, ferries, bridges and highways in this state.

Now, the Washington State Department of Transportation estimates bringing all that infrastructure up to a “minimally acceptable condition” would cost nearly $15 billion over the next decade, which works out to almost $2,000 per resident of the Evergreen State. That number is nowhere close to what the state is currently budgeting for maintenance.

Legislators and governors are generally attracted to big, shiny new projects; fixing the stuff that is already in place does not offer them the same gratitude from voters. Nevertheless, somebody needs to do the unsung, expensive, hard work to keep our transportation system stitched together, at least until we all get flying cars and can magically teleport our products to the rest of the world. 

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