Ari Ashe, wtop.com
SILVER SPRING, Md. - As Maryland roads get more congested, a new report finds inadequate roads are costing $6.2 billion annually in operating costs, lost time in traffic and wasted fuel.
The report, "Maryland Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State's Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility," is from TRIP, a national transportation research group.
"We find the average D.C.-area driver loses about $2,200 each year from roads that are deteriorated, congested and not as safe as they could be," says Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, a researcher at TRIP.
"People don't realize that's money coming directly out of your wallet."
Of the $2,200, congestion itself costs drivers about $1,400 per year, when calculating lost time and wasted fuel.
A 2012 Texas Transportation Institute study found local drivers spend 67 hours stuck in traffic each year, or more than one full week of work.
TRIP also finds that while 44 percent of Maryland's major roads are in good condition, 41 percent are in poor or mediocre condition.
TRIP Report by
"It's something you definitely notice as you're driving over. You can feel your vehicle shaking and vibrating. You can feel the potholes you roll over. In most cases, poor roads need to be replaced," says Kelly.
Inadequate roads cost the average Maryland driver about $600 dollars in vehicle operating costs, such as car repairs, wasted fuel and increase and unnecessary wear on tires, the report finds.
"Maryland has not been able to find the funding to keep pace with the needed improvements on the roads. As a result, drivers are on a system that's increasingly congested and not as safe as it could be," says Kelly.
On Maryland bridges, TRIP finds that about a quarter are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
"Structurally deficient means that there's significant deterioration to major parts, like the bridge deck or the supports. Functionally obsolete are bridges that don't meet modern design standards, either because the lanes are too narrow or it cannot handle current capacity," says Kelly.
The bridges are structurally safe, she says, but would benefit from repair or replacement in the near future.
Although the report doesn't specify what bridges were studied, the Maryland Transportation Authority has spent years preserving, repairing and replacing parts of the Bay Bridge decks, cables and other major components.
In addition, a six year study completed late last year outlined a plan to replace the Harry Nice Bridge connecting Charles County in Maryland and King George County in Virginia in order to increase capacity.
TRIP hopes this report will serve as another call to Maryland lawmakers in Annapolis to pass a transportation funding package, which could help improve roads and bridges, ease congestion and support economic growth.
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