WASHINGTON — One in four major urban roadways in the U.S. have substandard pavement, costing motorists as much as $1,044 per year, according to a new report from TRIP, a national transportation research group.
The study, Bumpy Roads Ahead: America's Roughest Rides and Strategies To Make our Roads Smoother, evaluated the condition of road surfaces in the nation's large and midsize urban areas and calculated the additional costs passed on to motorists as a result of driving on rough roads.
Those costs include accelerated vehicle deterioration and depreciation, as well as additional maintenance and repair costs, fuel consumption and tire wear.
Among the largest cities (500,000+ in population), those with the worst roads were San Francisco, where 74 percent of the pavement is in poor condition, the Los Angeles area (73 percent), the Concord, California, region (62 percent), Detroit (56 percent) and San Jose, California (53 percent).
Midsize cities (250,000-500,000 in population) topping the list include Flint, Michigan, where 54 percent of the roads are substandard, Antioch, California (52 percent), Santa Rosa, California (49 percent), Trenton, New Jersey (48 percent) and the Temecula, California, area (47 percent).
San Francisco drivers pay the most among large cities in increased vehicle costs due to poor roads, $1,044 per year, according to TRIP, followed closely by the Los Angeles area at $1,031. When it comes to midsize cities, motorists in the Temecula region head the list at $857 annually, edging out Flint at $839.
Nationwide, the average driver loses $516 annually in vehicle operating costs due to roads in need of repair, a total cost $109.3 billion per year.
Overall, the study found that 28 percent of the country's urban interstates, freeways and other major routes have substandard pavement, while an additional 41 percent have road surfaces that are only mediocre or fair.
According to the report, just 31 percent of these roads have pavement that could be categorized as good.
The point of the TRIP report is to draw attention to the poor condition of America's roadways at a time when Congress is debating the reauthorization of MAP-21 (the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), a major source of Federal Government expenditure for highway maintenance, whose funding runs out on July 31.
"The long-term preservation and maintenance of our national transportation system depends on federal investment," said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a statement. "We can do better than the uncertainty of short-term extensions. America needs Congress to fully fund a multi-year surface transportation bill."
Concluded Jill Ingrassia, managing director of government relations and traffic safety advocacy, for AAA: "The nation's rough roads stress nerves and cost billions in unnecessary vehicle replacement, repair and fuel costs. Full investment in our nation's transportation system will reduce the financial burden on drivers and provide them with a smoother, safer and more efficient ride."
Edmunds says: Consumers seeking information on vehicle maintenance and repair should consult the Edmunds.com Car Maintenance, Auto Repair & Mechanic Advice page.