We have a winner in the contest no one wants to win: Maine’s worst road is the stretch of 219, between Turner and Leeds.

The potholes are so deep, the central Maine couple who identified it received a $250 gift certificate from the Maine Better Transportation Association.

That should slightly soften the blow of the $1,000 car repair bill Martha and Roland Jordan already had to pay for damage to their car incurred on the highway, thanks to the state’s inability to keep the road in good repair.

The contest is a light-hearted attempt to draw attention to a serious problem. Maine’s highway fund is $720 million short for the next two- year cycle for planned maintenance and reconstruction. Most of the fund comes from gas taxes and registration fees, which are both down in the current economy.

That means the state is likely to face more problems like the ones that have been bad for the Jordans and good for their mechanic.

The Legislature considered increasing the gas tax last year, but the idea was shot down before it could ever really get off the ground.

Raising a gas tax is a tough sell in part because it is unfairly distributed among rural residents who drive longer distances and pay a disproportionate share.

The problem is that broad-based revenues, like the ones raised by sales and income taxes that make up the bulk of the general fund, are also in high demand and any increase in spending for roads comes at the expense of other priorities like education, or care for the low-income elderly.

The era of a self-supporting highway system is long gone and the state is going to have restructure the way it pays for its roads and bridges.

Until then, we will see more contenders for this dubious distinction.