Report: Deficient roads and bridges cost Pennsylvanians $9.4B annually

road bridge
The outside of Columbia Bridge in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park has eroded with time. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

It’s no secret that motorists traveling on Pennsylvania bridges and roads can expect a rough ride.

But according to a report released Wednesday by Washington, D.C.-based transportation organization TRIP, those potholes, pits and other problems are also impacting motorists’ pocketbooks – especially in Philadelphia.

“Future Mobility in Pennsylvania: The Cost of Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility” found Pennsylvania roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or unsafe cost motorists statewide a staggering total of $9.4 billion each year.

In fact, the report – which calculated the economic impact of insufficient roads and bridges in Pennsylvania’s five largest metropolitan areas – found the state has the nation’s highest share of “structurally deficient” bridges, meaning there is significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major infrastructure components.

Those bridges are often either restricted to vehicles with lower weights or closed to traffic, causing more backups and costing drivers more money due to fuel and time wasted in traffic delays and an increased number of vehicle repairs and car accidents in which roadway deficiencies are contributing factors.

With the transportation system forming the backbone of the state’s economy – $947 billion in goods is shipped to and from Pennsylvania annually, mostly by truck – it’s increasingly important for governments to invest in infrastructure from a competition standpoint, as companies look at the quality of regional transportation systems when deciding where to relocate or expand.

“The findings of the TRIP report reiterate the need for comprehensive transportation infrastructure funding legislation this year in Harrisburg,” Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce CEO Rob Wonderling said in a statement.

“The recent bridge collapse in Washington state is a tragic reminder of what happens when we fail to adequately invest in our infrastructure. Aside from the risk of injury, the disruption to commerce, access and mobility is devastating to businesses and citizens.”

And congestion on major urban roads in Pennsylvania continues to increase, hitting hardest in the Philadelphia area.

TRIP found a total of 73 percent of major roads in the Philadelphia urban area are in either “poor or mediocre condition,” with each city motorist paying nearly $1,800 annually in extra vehicle operating costs caused by poor roadways, traffic crashes, and lost time and fuel.

Philadelphia drivers, on average, sit in traffic for a total of 48 hours each year and waste an average of 23 gallons of fuel annually due to congestion, according to TRIP.

The report recommends increasing transportation investments at the local, state and federal levels to improve bridge and road conditions, relieving traffic congestion, boosting safety and supporting long-term economic growth in the state.

“Addressing Pennsylvania’s needs for a safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation system will require a significant investment boost at the federal and state levels,” TRIP executive director Will Wilkins said in a statement.

“But not addressing the state’s need for an improved transportation system will result in even greater costs to the public.”

Other findings of the TRIP report include:

25% of Pennsylvania bridges are structurally deficient.

17% of the state’s bridges are “functionally obsolete,” meaning they no longer meet current highway design standards due to things like narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment with connecting roads.

42% of bridges in the state show “significant deterioration” or don’t meet current design standards and are in need of repair, improvement or replacement.

37% of major Pennsylvania roads and highways have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing motorists with a “rough ride.”

1,286 people were killed in traffic crashes in Pennsylvania in 2011. That’s 1.3 traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, higher than the national average of 1.1 fatalities. In 1/3 of those fatal crashes, roadway conditions were likely a contributing factor, the report estimates.

$2.7 billion is the estimated cost of serious traffic crashes to Pennsylvania motorists in 2011, a figure that includes lost productivity and earnings, medical costs and emergency services.

$3 billion is spent annually by Pennsylvania motorists in extra vehicle operating costs, including repairs, fuel consumption, tire wear and accelerated vehicle depreciation.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

National

Missouri man charged with sexually torturing five women

A Missouri man has been charged with raping and torturing five women in a St. Louis-area apartment over several years, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.