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Report finds Huntsville drivers spend an extra $1300 annually

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - $4.2 billion. That's how much a national transportation research group claims Alabamians are paying to drive on deficient roads and bridges.

The group, known as TRIP, found that just by driving in Huntsville you're spending an extra $619 on vehicle operating costs.

But that's not all, you're also paying $196 for safety. Plus, $510 on congestion.

When you total that up, you're forking out an extra $1325 a year.

"Because there is a lack of transportation funding, the roads are more deteriorated and congested and the costs are being passed on to the drivers each year," associate TRIP director, Carolyn Kelly said.

The report finds that 56 percent of major roads in the Huntsville urbanized areas are in poor or mediocre condition.

"We're looking at the roads you travel on after you leave your neighborhood," Kelly said.

The research group combines data from the Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other federal sources.

"It's part of our mission as an organization to make sure that drivers and legislators across the country are educated about the conditions of their transportation system and the impact that has on drivers and on the business community as well," Kelly said.

"I think the report and the results of that report has not shocked anyone," said Huntsville director of economic and urban development, Shane Davis.

Back in 2014, the city of Huntsville committed $250 dollars to road improvements. ALDOT matched the city to work on the major projects.
"But it's not enough. We identified 6 projects and more projects locally like Martin and Zeirdt Road, and some others," Davis said.

He said there's about $450 million worth of highway work already in play just in the city limits of Huntsville.  However, there's a lot more necessary road work the city can't afford.

"If we started those today they would be somewhere in the 500 to 700 million dollar range," Davis said.

He said officials are working as hard as they can with the fund available. He claims something needs to be done at the federal and state level.

"I think we've got to be progressive. We got to be bold. You know, I know to raise money to work on infrastructure is a debate. You're either for it, or against it. But doing nothing is not an option," Davis said.