‘TRIP’ report shows how much Huntsville roadways cost drivers

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A new report that evaluates the current condition, use and funding of Alabama’s surface transportation system highlights what it's all really costing drivers.

The report, “Alabama Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” provides key facts and figures regarding road and bridge conditions, economic development, highway safety, and transportation funding in Alabama.  TRIP’s report finds that the average Huntsville driver loses more than $1,200 each year as a result of driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated or lack some desirable safety features.

Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw, District 2, represents Madison County. He said this study is another tool to use when looking at road and infrastructure challenges in North Alabama.

The 'TRIP' study shows driving on deficient roads costs each Huntsville area driver $1,226 per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion- related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor.

Senator Holtzclaw said the study helped to identify some of the biggest needs that they know are out there, and what the biggest challenges are for the next decade. 

Three percent of major roads in the Huntsville urban area were rated in poor condition and an additional 36 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Compared to the rest of the state though, Huntsville's biggest problem comes from congestion.

"Somewhat of the congestion we face right now in our area is artificial," Holtzclaw said. "We have a lot of road projects going on from all of the A-Trip funding that was freed up, causing a lot of this construction."

As we continue to grow our infrastructure in the area, more people tend to make their way in. Holtzclaw said it's a very positive sign, but they need to be proactive when it comes to roadways.

"While we continue to see great progress in road and bridge construction in North Alabama, our congested roadways continue to be a problem due to explosive growth in our region,” said Senator Holtzclaw. “The TRIP report identifies valid infrastructure concerns and supports the need to address long-term infrastructure solutions through reviewing antiquated funding formulas. However, we must focus on finding solutions without further impacting taxpayers.”

How do they plan to do that without reaching into taxpayer pockets? 

"That's the $60 million question," Said Holtzclaw. "That's why this study was done, and we will use it to figure out formulas that work best for our taxpayers. We want to make sure the taxes we pay at the gas pumps are being returned to Alabama fairly and equitably."

The Senator said the last thing we need as we continue to enjoy explosive growth because of our success in the Valley is to turn the area into a gridlock quagmire.

"We still need to address the East/West Highway 72, as well as the continued congestion on 565," said Holtzclaw.  "Also, north Highway 72 in the Monrovia and Harvest area."

Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Alabama. 

Holtzclaw said it's also necessary to trust local leaders to work together and prioritize what's most important and what will work best in the area. That helps the Senate work to prioritize funding for the most vital projects, then see the projects through to fruition.  

"We know that there are issues out there," Holtzclaw said.  "I drive these same roads and sit in the same traffic as my constituents. I'm likely in the car right beside you. So, we are looking for long-term solutions, that don't impact the taxpayers anymore."

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