slides: Bad Roads Cost New England Consumers $80 Billion Annually
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Three Massachusetts cities were among the top twenty with the highest percentage of roads in poor condition. 39% of roads in Boston and Springfield were considered in poor condition, as were 41% of roads in Worcester. Other New England cities with high percentages of roads in poor condition included Providence at 36%, Hartford at 38%, and New Haven at 47%.
“Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation and increasing needed maintenance, fuel consumption and tire wear,” according to a report recently released by TRIP, a national transportation research group.
New England Cities Leading in Consumer Costs
According to the report, those who frequently drive on Worcester’s roads pay an average of $600 annually on repairs and wear and tear resulting from poor road conditions. Other New England cities with high consumer costs include Bridgeport and Stamford, Connecticut where annual consumer costs average $669.
The report examined pavement conditions, transportation funding, and economic development is several urban areas nationwide. Data was collected from the Federal Highway Administration and AAA. The costs of operating on roads in poor conditions was determined using AAA’s average operating cost numbers, and extrapolating how increasingly deteriorating roads affected that, said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, Associate Director of Research and Communication at TRIP.
“It comes down to a lack of funding as the state, federal, and local level,” said Bonifas Kelly. “The states are doing a tremendous job with the funds they have available, but there isn’t enough. We hope this report will be a call to action in terms of making transportation funds a priority at the local, state, and federal level.”
New England Roads Require Investment
Though TRIP contends that funding to maintain and improve New England’s roads is lacking, many point to current construction and research efforts as signs of positive changes to come.
Positive Changes in Progress
“I am the Coordinator for the New England Transportation Consortium (NETC), a program that pools resources from the Research Programs at the Departments of Transportation in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Occasionally New York will participate as well, if they are interested in collaborating on a specific research project,” said Amanda Hanaway-Corrente, PE, MBA.
“Each state has their own research program to identify solutions to transportation issues that are specific to their state, but the NETC research program is reserved for regional issues that affect most or all of the member states. Some of the research we are working on right now includes: preventative maintenance and timing of applications, in-place response mechanisms of recycled layers due to temperature and moisture variations, effective establishment of native grasses on roadsides, advanced composite materials, and low temperature and moisture susceptibility of RAP mixtures with warm mix technology,”
John Paul, a spokesperson for AAA of Southern New England, pointed to other, more everyday signs of progress. Paul commutes more than fifty miles to work every day, and has noticed recent improvement to his daily route.
“I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that 495 is being repaved,” he said. “Our roads are not in terrific condition, but there seems to be something certainly happening. This report, like all reports, is past history. Maybe it had something to do with everything happening.”
Watch Out For Winter
Despite his optimism, Paul admitted that many New England roads are in need of improvement and that cars today are not as well suited to deal with deteriorating roads.
“Cars today have tire designs that are typically wider and lower than before which makes them more susceptible to damage,” he said. “As roads deteriorate, it is definitely tough on consumers’ cars and that’s why consumers need to be vigilant about the roads they’re driving on and look out for potholes and other hazards.”
Bonifas Kelly remarked that extreme heat and cold increase the speed and severity of road deterioration so New England consumers should be especially vigilant in the upcoming winter season.
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