America's Hidden Pothole Tax

A new report from TRIP has been released showing which regions have the worst maintained roads. United States drivers on average pay an annual 'hidden pothole tax' of $515, double that in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Highway funding expires July 31.
July 27, 2015, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"More than a quarter of U.S. urban roads and interstate highways are in poor condition, costing motorists more than $500 annually, according to a report released on Thursday as Congress debates extending transportation funding," writes Katie Reilly for Reuters.

The report, released by TRIP [previously The Road Information Project], a non-profit transportation research group in Washington, said driving on roads in disrepair could accelerate vehicle deterioration and increase needed maintenance and fuel consumption.

California is home to half of the ten regions with the highest share of pavements in poor condition, causing motorists the highest vehicle operating costs (VOC).


Rank

 

Large Urban Area

(500,000+ population)

Percent

Poor

Rank

Large Urban Area

500,000+ population)

VOC Per

Driver

1

San Francisco--Oakland, CA

74%

1

San Francisco-Oakland, CA

 $ 1,044

2

Los Angeles--Long Beach--Santa Ana, CA

73%

2

Los Angeles--Long Beach--Santa Ana, CA

 $ 1,031

3

Concord, CA

62%

 

3

Concord, CA

 $    954

4

Detroit, MI

56%

4

Tulsa, OK

 $    928

5

San Jose, CA

53%

5

Oklahoma City, OK

 $    917

6

Cleveland, OH

52%

6

Detroit, MI

 $    866

7

New York--Newark, NY

51%

7

Cleveland, OH

 $    845

8

San Diego, CA

51%

8

San Jose, CA

 $    844

9

Grand Rapids, MI

51%

9

San Diego, CA

 $    843

10

Honolulu, HI

51%

10

San Antonio, TX

 $    838

Credit: TRIP

Credit goes to Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post Wonkblog for coining the term used in the subject title of this post. "That $515 in extra costs the average driver pays is really nothing more than a hidden pothole tax," he wrote last month on the TRIP report, although it was officially released on July 23

The term is an important one. Opponents of California's cap-and-trade fee that transportation fuel suppliers must pay the California Air Resources Board, about ten cents per gallon, called it a hidden gas tax. Angering opponents further is that rather than funds being used for road repair, they are added to the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and applied to projects that reduce emissions such as transit and transit-friendly affordable housing.

bill to increase California's gas tax by 10 cents per gallon is opposed by Republicans who would rather the above carbon charge pay for road upkeep.

On Sunday, the U.S. Senate debated two unrelated amendments, the Export-Import Bank and the Affordable Care Act, to their six-year transportation reauthorization bill* that needs to be approved by both houses and signed by President Obama by the end of the month, or transportation funding ceases.

An alternative would be for the Senate to approve the five-month House patch bill which "got a boost (July 15) from President Barack Obama," wrote John McKinnon for The Wall Street Journal.

The White House said it supports the short-term extension of the highway program, “to give the House and Senate the necessary time to complete work on a long-term bill this year that increases investment to meet the nation’s infrastructure needs.”

Endnote: *The amendments are to H.R. 22, the bill the Senate is using as their 'vehicle' to transportation reauthorization as it has already passed the House, unlike their bill, the DRIVE Act.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, July 23, 2015 in Reuters
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