Report: Traffic, poor infrastructure cost Triangle drivers $1,000 per year

Posted March 25, 2014

— Triangle drivers pay an extra $1,000 a year each because of poor roads and bridges and traffic congestion, according to a report released Tuesday.

TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization, and the North Carolina Chamber Foundation say higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays cost drivers statewide $6.5 billion each year.

The report found that 11 percent of North Carolina's major roads and highways are in poor condition and that 30 percent of bridges statewide show significant deterioration or don't meet current design standards. Also, the state’s urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel.

"The next step is to have an open, candid discussion about establishing a sustainable, predictable funding source to make sure we meet our infrastructure needs," said Gary Salamido, vice president of government affairs for the N.C. Chamber.

The traditional funding source for the country's roads and bridges is the gas tax, but the federal tax hasn't increased in more than 20 years, and North Carolina lawmakers have capped the state gas tax at various times.

"At the federal level, we need to be spending about 50 percent more than what we're currently spending," said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

Additionally, the amount of revenue generated by the gas tax has been on a downward trend for years because of increased vehicle fuel efficiency and the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles.

North Carolina's growing population will only add to the strain on the state's highway infrastructure, the report's authors said, so new revenue sources are needed.

Area drivers said they don't like the idea of raising the gas tax to generate more money for roads.

"Put a little bit more money in my pocket would be a little better," Derek Burdge said.

"It's high enough as it is, but I think it would help benefit the roads because there's a lot of damaged roads here in Raleigh," Lawrence Ashley said.

Salamido said pushing for a tax increase is a tough sell in an election year, but he and others said North Carolina's economic future depends on maintaining roads and bridges and limiting traffic congestion.

"The time to put policy ahead of politics is now," Salamido said.

"When it comes to transportation, there's an issue called lead time, and so, if you wait until the growth overwhelms you, it's too late," said Joe Milazzo, executive director of the Regional Transportation Alliance, a business group in the Triangle.

The report's authors say the Triangle can learn from Atlanta and northern Virginia in trying to plan to avoid massive traffic congestion.

North Carolina Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Secretary said the report confirms what agency officials have known for some time, adding that he is pleased public attention is being focused on the infrastructure issue.

"We are dealing with an infrastructure system that requires constant maintenance," Tennyson said. "Across the nation and in our state, we see declining transportation revenue projections. At the same time, we are focused on leveraging infrastructure to strengthen the economy and create jobs."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 27, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Crime, sickness and death would escalate so greatly it would cost us many times that amount.

    But, hey...children only make up HALF of foodstamp receivers, so what do we care. Let them starve! And, we know that kids do better in school when they don't eat, so society will get smarter too! Great idea.


  • LocalYokel Mar 26, 2014

    Have you seen the traffic congestion created by wrecks on the Triangle highways?

    I am guessing that the cumulative impact (no pun intended) of wrecks is millions of dollars on the economy. This would include lost productivity as well as fuel.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Mar 26, 2014

    View quoted thread

    What happens when all the people that ride by choice decide it no longer makes sense and switch back to driving? Then you've increased the strain on the roads and the amount of congestion. NC should long ago have made the gas tax a flat % without a $ cap. Then as prices rice, for gas and everything else (including building roads) revenue would rise at an easy pace. Most of us understand the need to invest in infrastructure, it's the hard, quick tax increases that would really hurt. Gradual we can adapt to.

  • Jim Buchanan Mar 26, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I choose to ride the highway as well! Funny how there was enough money to build the entire loop when it started and after the richer areas, North Raleigh, got their section, the money just disappeared! So, now the southern, less financial area, has to pay tolls for their section. Tax the whole 540 loop and see what the rich have to say!!! (Oh, but they can't because it was built with Federal Money...How convenient!)

  • Jim Buchanan Mar 26, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Well, it sounds like your all for it so why not make a hefty donation with all the extra money you seem to have lying around? Some of us are trying to make it paycheck to paycheck. And I know, that's my own fault. Well, not really!! If companies would start paying the people that do the work instead of the "High and mighty" running the company getting millions on top of millions, I could pay more.

  • catherinecatlewis Mar 26, 2014

    Politicians use these reports to gin up support for tax increases so they don't have to do the hard work of budgeting!

  • rduwxboy Mar 26, 2014

    "I have also seen plenty of money wasted re-paving perfectly good roads while others are neglected." -ECUPIP

    Yes, because everyone can just look at a road and determine its structural integrity. Why do we even need engineers? That should save billions right there.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 26, 2014

    Time to get Mass transit to contribute. Immediately triple all fares and take 1/3 of the increase and put that back into the roads and bridges. The Free riders on mass transit need to start paying their fare share.

  • ecupip Mar 26, 2014

    Oh here we go again. Why not just tax gas on the total sales price the same as goods and services? Though we are using less fuel with modern cars the total sales price each time surely has not gone down.

    I have also seen plenty of money wasted re-paving perfectly good roads while others are neglected.

  • Obamacare returns again Mar 26, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Your smart phone deosn't sound very smart at all ThomasL.