New Orleans area roads are among the nation's most deteriorated, costing drivers nearly $700 annually.
Those are figures from the Washington, D.C. based national transportation research group, TRIP.
"The new TRIP report found that, in New Orleans, about 47 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition," says Carolyn Kelly, Associated Director of Research and Communications for TRIP.
She says that means that almost half the time you're driving in New Orleans, you're riding on roads that have significant rutting and potholes...roads that are taking a significant toll on your vehicle and taking money out of your pocket.
"Driving on rough roads costs each New Orleans driver about $687 dollars annually in extra vehicle operating costs," says Kelly.
"Those costs come in the form of accelerated vehicle deterioration and depreciation, fuel consumption and increased tire wear. And, you're going back to see your mechanic much more often as a result of driving on roads that are, essentially, beating up your vehicle."
According to the TRIP report, the New Orleans urban area ranks ninth among large cities (500,000+) in both the percentage of roads in poor condition and the annual cost to motorists of driving on rough roads.
"It's not something you want to be proud of," Kelly says.
She says funding at all levels of government needs to increase to prevent further deterioration.
"In many cases, the organizations that are maintaining the roads are doing a tremendous job with the funding that they have available. But, the reality is that they simply don't have enough funds to address all the needed transportation issues. And that includes keeping the pavement in good condition, keeping the bridges in good repair and trying to expand the roadways to minimize transportation congestion."
She says road conditions are expected to decline further if federal and state lawmakers fail to act. Federal funding for the region's highways are set to be slashed next October unless congress approves additional revenues.
In its report, 'Bumpy Roads Ahead: America's Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother', TRIP says federal dollars are a key source of transportation funding in Louisiana. But the lack of adequate funding beyond the expiration of MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) federal surface transportation legislation on September 30, 2014, threatens the future condition and performance of the nation's roads and highways.
In the fall of 2014, nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut back by almost 100 percent from the current $40 billion investment level unless additional revenues are provided to the federal Highway Trust Fund. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Under this scenario, federal funding for highway and transit improvements in Louisiana is estimated to be cut by $686 million for the federal fiscal year starting October 1, 2014, unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.
"Federal, state and local governments are all increasingly strapped for cash," says Kelly. "What that means is that transportation budgets have been dramatically reduced. And, in many cases, these cities just simply don't have the funding available to keep the roads in good repair. So, it's essential that transportation funding, at the federal, state and local level, is maintained at an adequate level to keep these road conditions from deteriorating further."
A 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation report found that the nation would need to increase annual funding for road and highway improvements by 21 percent to keep them in their current condition, by 51 percent to make a modest improvement in overall conditions and by 91 percent to make significant improvement to their condition.
Through 2032, the U.S. faces a $156 billion shortfall in the amount needed to maintain roadways in their current condition, a $374 billion shortfall to make modest improvements in pavement conditions and a $670 billion shortfall to make significant improvements to roadway conditions.