Rural counties across middle America are turning paved roads back into gravel. The WSJ article is from 2010, and I wonder to what extent this trend has continued. I can’t say that it seems like much of a loss. I suspect that much of the rural pavement was laid down without a good understanding of how much O&M it was committing the local governments to paying for. As state and federal budgets shrink, and counties are left to pay for their own infrastructure, they realize that maybe cheaper gravel and lower speeds are actually a better value proposition.
A summary of research looking at how road infrastructure is funded (PDF) from VTPI. Only about half of road funding comes from “use” fees like the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. The other half comes from general tax revenues. Ultimately this means that non-motorized road users, whose impacts on road infrastructure are very low, overpay significantly and end up subsidizing motorists.