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Report: Poor Roads, Congestion Cost Seattle-Area Drivers $1,800 A Year

Seattle-area drivers are losing about $1,800 a year due to driving on poor roads, congestion delays and traffic crashes on roads that are unsafe, according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group. The same report says drivers are wasting 48 hours a year stuck in traffic.

The report highlighted the large number of roads in the city and the state in need of repair, and the costs to drivers from things like wear and tear on their vehicles.

Deteriorating roads have grabbed headlines lately with news of more cracks in the Alaskan Way viaduct. But the report says the problem goes far beyond that one infamous roadway. 

Seventy-five percent of roads in Seattle are in either poor or mediocre condition, the report said. Driving on them means damaging your car, for example, by blowing out a tire going over a pothole.

Car Damage

“Poor roads beat up your vehicle,” said Carolyn Kelly, the report’s author. “That’s what causes you to go see your mechanic more often, and it causes you to go see your car salesman more often.”

Gov. Jay Inslee has been pushing for the passage of a transportation spending package, but with the legislative session ending this week, hope has dimmed. Population growth in Washington has added stress to the state’s roads and funding for repairs hasn’t kept up, according to the study.

The report cites figures from Washington State Department of Transportation predicting a shortfall of about $1 billion over the next five years for pavement preservation and road reconstruction. An extra $220 million is needed to improve the state’s bridges. Five percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and another 21 percent are functionally obsolete, the report said.

TRIP is funded by groups that stand to benefit from additional transportation funding, such as equipment manufacturers, engineering and construction companies and labor unions.