Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost the average Harrisburg motorist $872 each year, a total of $8.2 billion statewide, due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. And Pennsylvania faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $3.5 billion to meet highway, bridge and transit needs. An increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal level could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Pennsylvania, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Future Mobility in Pennsylvania: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that 44 percent of major roads in Harrisburg are in poor or mediocre condition and more than a third of bridges in the area are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Fifty-three percent of major urban roads in the area are congested during peak times. Traffic crashes in the Harrisburg area claimed the lives of 66 people in 2008, giving the area a fatality rate of 13.6 fatalities per 100,000 population.
Deficient roads cost the average Harrisburg driver $872 each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Pennsylvania’s largest urban areas: Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton / Wilkes-Barre. A breakdown of the costs in each city is below:
More than a third of bridges and overpasses in Harrisburg show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. Thirteen percent of Harrisburg bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or are closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency service vehicles. An additional 21 percent of area bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment with the approaching road. The TRIP report includes a list of bridges in the Harrisburg area with the lowest sufficiency rating, including the following: Enola Road Bridge over Norfolk Southern Rail Road, Big Spring Creek Bridge, Mulberry Street Bridge over AMTRAK, Allentown Boulevard Bridge over Manada Creek, and Slate Hill Road Bridge over US 15.
The TRIP report also includes lists of transportation projects in the Harrisburg area that are needed, but for which there is not adequate funding to proceed. They include resurfacing and bridge work on I-81 from the Franklin County Line to Exit 37, resurfacing and lighting improvements on I-83 from the I-83 South bridge to Eisenhower, and replacing the Capital Area Transit (CAT) maintenance and storage facility.
“It is critical that the state adequately fund its surface transportation system so that Pennsylvania drivers and businesses have a safe and reliable system of roads, bridges and public transit. Unless the transportation system is adequately funded, the costs will continue to be passed along to drivers at a time when many can ill afford it,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.
The federal surface transportation program remains a critical source of funding for road and bridge repairs and transit improvements in Pennsylvania. With the current program set to expire on December 31, Congress will need to authorize a new federal surface transportation program or extend the current program to allow federal transportation dollars to continue to flow to the state.
“Pennsylvania must improve its system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit to foster economic growth, create jobs, avoid business relocations, and ensure the safe, reliable mobility needed to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians,” said Ted Leonard, executive director of the Pennsylvania AAA Federation.
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