Study: Bad roads cost Birmingham drivers $1,600 annually - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Study: Bad roads cost Birmingham drivers $1,600 annually

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

If you drive through Birmingham and Jefferson County you know numerous roads are in bad shape.

Now a new study confirms what we already know, but it also shows how much the roads are costing drivers.

The national non-profit group TRIP says bad roads in the Birmingham area cost drivers about $1,600 annually, or a total of $3.1 billion per year.

That amount comes in the form of extra vehicle costs due to driving on bad roads, lost time and fuel due to traffic congestion, and the cost of traffic crashes.

According to the study:

-21 percent of the roads are in poor condition

-51 percent are mediocre

-5 percent are fair

-22 percent are in good shape

-23 percent of the state's bridges are deteriorated or don't meet modern design standards

-14 percent of bridges are functionally obsolete.

TRIP held a press conference on Wednesday morning with local and state leaders to announce their findings. They want to encourage Congress to design a concrete plan to fund road and bridge repairs.

The biggest question is where will the money come from?

TRIP says there's legislation on the table in Washington that would raise the federal fuel tax,  but they don't forsee any action on that bill until after the 2016 election.

State Senator Salde Blackwell says there's no talk about raising the state fuel tax either.

Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight agrees something must be done to address the road problems, but finding a financial solution will be difficult.

"This tax based on vehicle mileage, I think that's a very controversial subject. The people that live within five miles of work, that's one thing, but if you live 40 miles from work that's really an unequal taxation," Knight said.

Commissioner Knight also says the county's bankruptcy has impacted their transportation department.

He says three and a half years ago the transportation budget was $40 million and they had 425 employees.

Today the budget is $18 million with 190 employees.

Knight says they're having to prioritize projects based on the most dire need. He also says they're in the process of re-hiring some of those employees.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell also spoke at the press conference. He says the $150 million bond referendum included about $10 million for road resurfacing but didn't provide any funding for bridge work.

He specifically talked about the Richard Arrington Boulevard bridge that's dedicated as a World War I memorial needing repairs.

He says the city relies heavily on state funding for road and bridge repairs.

TRIP says Congress recently extended the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, which will provide $11 million to get us through May 31, 2015.

After that, state and local leaders are hoping to see a long term funding plan.

Experts from TRIP and state and local authorities say more money is vital to ensuring the safety of drivers, and reducing the cost of wear and tear on vehicles.

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