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Traffic takes a toll: Lousy roads, congested highways cost U.S. $30 billion says industry study

May 24, 2019

Honk if you love infrastructure? The U.S. Travel Association has released new research revealing that Americans avoided an estimated 47.5 million auto trips due to highway congestion in 2018 costing the economy $30 billion in travel spending and 248,000 American jobs.

“Heading into Memorial Day and the summer travel season, this suite of research shows that: one, the country is becoming less connected because of strained infrastructure; and two, there is a measurable economic cost to that problem,” said the organization’s president and CEO Roger Dow.

“The infrastructure discussion tends to grind to a political halt when it turns to resources. So we tested the funding question with polling. The interesting thing we found is that Americans are willing to pay more as long as their money is explicitly used to improve transportation in their region,” Mr. Dow says.

Among the findings: 66.1% of auto travelers would rather pay an additional $2-$3 each way to fund transportation projects than sit for an additional one to two hours in traffic each way. Another 60% said traffic congestion would be a greater deterrent to car travel than a 25-cent increase in gas taxes while 80% said additional gas taxes will not have a negative impact the frequency of their travel by car.

“When told Congress is considering proposals to increase other taxes and fees on drivers that would result in transportation improvements, 64.8% of auto travelers are willing to support such proposals,” the research said.

“Our survey gave travelers a choice: would you rather pay more, or continue to sit in traffic? Two-thirds said they would rather pay a little more. We hope that gives Congress some encouragement to make difficult decisions, because data shows us that inaction is putting the brakes on connectivity and prosperity,” Mr. Dow notes.

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