Poor Roads Cost NJ Drivers $600 a Year: National Report

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group finds that New Jersey drivers suffer some of the worst roads in the nation, with the state’s major roadways ranked third worst according to the percentage of lane miles in poor or mediocre condition.

One in three lane miles in New Jersey is rated by the FHWA as poor or mediocre, according to the report, Road Work Ahead: Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America’s Crumbling Roads and Bridges. In addition, the report found that one in ten New Jersey bridges score a “structurally deficient” rating from the federal government, meaning that those bridges have significant cracks or failures and should be repaired immediately.

New Jersey drivers probably aren’t surprised to learn that the state has the third worst roads in the nation.  But they may be surprised to hear that those all-too-common cracks and potholes are costing them nearly $600 in additional repair and maintenance costs every year.

The report’s release comes as the state legislature and NJDOT are grappling with how best to maintain the solvency of the Transportation Trust Fund. Responding to the report in a statement, the Campaign’s executive director, Kate Slevin said, “The state’s Transportation Trust Fund is about to drive off the Palisades. By the summer of 2011, the fund will be broke with 100% of revenues going to pay off existing debt. Without action from our elected officials, we will have no money to maintain our roads, bridges and public transportation network.”

U.S. PIRG calls on states to adopt a fix-it-first investment strategy, a policy which New Jersey embraced nearly a decade ago. In its statement, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign urged NJDOT to maintain its commitment to repairing existing roads and bridges in this year’s capital program, which will soon be released by the agency.

NY State Drivers Also Shelling Out For Bad Roads

Poor road conditions cost drivers in New York State $405 in repair and maintenance costs every year — more than in 42 other states — according to the report.  This isn’t likely to improve any time soon. At Gov. Paterson’s direction, NYSDOT has prepared a two-year capital spending plan that is so threadbare that the agency itself calls the plan “not sufficient to maintain existing levels of statewide bridge and pavement conditions.”  The governor has also frozen payments to contractors working on state transportation projects because of the state’s budget impasse, stalling maintenance work across New York.

Image: Pothole in Mercer County, NJ. Flickr/interchangeableparts.

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