Bad roads cost Knoxville drivers nearly $1,300 a year, study says

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A new report by the National Transportation Research Group says bad roads and bridges cost Tennessee drivers $5.6 billion each year.

That’s nearly $1,300 for each driver for average wear and tear, crashes and delays or wasted gas because of traffic. AAA is hoping for some long-term solutions.

The study finds many of the major roads in Knoxville are in poor to fair condition.

“The interstates around here are rough,” said Mary Christofferson of Knoxville.

“It’s much more cost effective for the state to make an investment in improving the transportation system rather than passing those increasingly high costs along to drivers,” said Carolyn Kelly with TRIP research group.

It’s difficult for the state to find funding for the list of road projects. This summer Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to communities thinking of ways to pay for repairs. AAA believes a gas tax may work long term.

“That’s the most logical place to go for increased funding. The mechanism is already in place, people are already accustomed to paying a gasoline-fuel tax,” said AAA Regional President Tim Wright.

So far there are no proposals this session for a gas tax increase, but no matter what you believe there is something you can do now.

“They need to let their legislators know that good roads are important to their well being as well as the state’s well being,” added Wright.

Some worry roads may get worse and hope a creative fix is on the horizon.

“You get what you pay for and our roads and bridges, and some of our infrastructure, is passed due for maintenance,” said Christofferson.

Researchers say the issues and problems highlighted have nothing to do with work by Tennessee Department of Transportation or local road departments, but rather lack of funding.

If you spend a lot of time caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-40, the TRIP study reveals that congestion causes 35 hours of lost time a year for each driver.

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