Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:33

Rough Roads Costing Motorists Hundreds More Per Year

Keeping the nation's highways in good repair is a daily battle against age, weather and the wear and tear of unrelenting traffic. As a result, 33% of the nation's major highways are rated in poor or mediocre condition, according to a new report, Rough Roads Ahead: Fix Me Now or Pay for It Later. Rough roads cost drivers hundreds of additional dollars annually in vehicle operating costs.

An analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration finds that in Pennsylvania, a large percentage of highways are in poor or mediocre condition, including state, city and county roads. Rough roads in Pennsylvania are costing Commonwealth motorists up to $500 a year in extra vehicle operating costs, according to the report issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and TRIP, a transportation research group. "It is essential that we address the issues that plague our roads now before they become larger problems," said Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors. "The condition of our highways affects the safety and quality of life of all Pennsylvanians." The report uses the latest government statistics to show pavement conditions in all 50 states and vehicle operating costs by state and urban areas.

Nationally, 72 percent of the Interstate Highway System is in good condition, but age, weather conditions and burgeoning traffic -- particularly multi-axle trucks -- are eroding ride quality. "Our nation has invested $1.75 trillion in our public highway system over the past 50 years," said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. "We hope Congress will make it possible for the federal government to sustain its share of the increased investment needed to keep America's roads in good condition. If not, it will cost the American people billions more later." The report points out that traffic growth has far outpaced highway construction, particularly in major metropolitan areas. The number of miles driven in this country jumped more than 41 percent from 1990 to 2007 -- from 2.1 trillion miles in 1990 to 3 trillion in 2007.

In some parts of the country, dramatic population growth has occurred without much of an increase in road capacity, placing enormous pressure on roads that, in many cases, were built 50 years ago. "The federal stimulus program is providing a helpful down payment towards repairing some of the nation's rough roads," said Frank Moretti, TRIP's director of policy and research. "But it will take a significant long-term boost in investment by all levels of government to provide Americans with a smooth ride."

The full report is available at http://roughroads.transportation.org, along with examples from states working to improve their highway systems, charts and photographs. Rough Roads is part of Are We There Yet? We Can Be!, AASHTO's effort to build awareness and support for the nation's transportation system.

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