Following up on a study released last year on America’s deteriorating rural roads, the national transportation research group, TRIP, unveiled a new report last week that shows our nation’s urban roads are also in need of vast improvements. The report, “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother,” found that 28 percent of America’s major urban roads had substandard pavement conditions in 2013. And the annual cost of driving on these deficient roads – from vehicle deterioration, added fuel consumption and compounded maintenance needs – adds up to a nationwide total of $109.3 billion. That’s an annual price tag of $516 for the average urban driver.
Road travel growth rates are returning to pre-recession levels and the TRIP report estimates that truck travel in the U.S. will increase by 72 percent between now and 2030. If we hope to pave the way for that growth by improving the conditions of our urban and rural roads and lowering the price of driving on them, leaders at all levels must focus on finding real solutions to adequately invest in our transportation network over the long haul. The federal government, which should provide a critical source of long-term transportation funds, has repeatedly been held in check by Congressional inaction on this issue. Indeed, a number of media outlets responded with concern to these revelations from TRIP last week, with the editorial board of USA Today even calling on Congress to address the issue in the face of the looming July 31 deadline that will end funding for new federal transportation projects.
While U.S. Senators are considering a bill this week that would provide a first step on the path to a long-term federal funding solution, Congress’ inaction on the issue so far only underscores the need for North Carolina’s leaders to act now to ensure sustainable sources of funding for the future of our transportation network. At the NC Chamber, we continue to believe that our elected leaders, unlike Congress, will have the courage to make the bold choices we need in 2015 to secure long-term, recurring transportation investments for our fast-growing state. We encourage you to listen to the NC Chamber’s latest ad and visit www.nccantaffordtowait.com to let our elected leaders know that North Carolina can’t afford to wait on long-term transportation funding reform.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber