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Report: Bad Roads and Transit Costs Average Pittsburgher Driver $1,418 a Year

Mark Nootbar
90.5 WESA

The latest report from a Washington D.C.-based pro-transportation investment think tank finds the average Pittsburgh driver is losing $1,418 a year due to the poor conditions of the region’s transportation infrastructure and mass transit systems. 

The Road Information Program (TRIP) Policy and Research Director Frank Moretti said that comes in the form of gas and time wasted sitting in traffic congestion, accidents due at least in part to poor road conditions and design, and fuel inefficiency and undue wear and tear on vehicles due to bad road conditions.

The same report finds says 48 percent of the roads in the Pittsburgh area are in either poor or mediocre condition.

“Quite simply we have not invested in it,” said Joe Kirk, board member of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association. “There has not been a real increase in transportation funding in the last 15 years, and during that time there has been an erosion of the value of that dollar by about 45 percent.”

Both Kirk and Moretti praise Gov. Tom Corbett for his attempt to increase transportation funding in the proposed 2013-2014 budget, but Kirk noted the level of funding suggested in the proposal would only raise the state’s roads to a “C” grade after 20 years. 

Moretti said the state needs to do better than that if it is going to get PennDOT out of the mode of jumping from one emergency repair to the next and into a position of being able to efficiently maintain the assets it has.

He said Pennsylvania right now has a “worst first” mentality, where it spends millions of dollars fixing the bridge or road that is in the worst condition rather than spending its time and money doing preventative maintenance.

“Which is a much more appropriate use of tax payer dollars and much more effective, but obviously to get there you need to get things in reasonable condition," Moretti said.

With 37 percent of the state-maintained roads and 42 percent of its bridges in poor or mediocre condition, it is clear the state is far away from such a maintenance system.