New Report Highlights Need for Increased Investment in Utah’s Local Roads

Driving on deteriorated urban roads costs motorists as much as $640 annually in Utah, according to a new report that evaluates pavement conditions in the nation’s large (500,000+ population) and mid-sized urban areas (250,000-500,000 population) and calculates the additional costs passed on to motorists as a result of driving on rough roads. 

The report shows that poor roads are costing drivers in the Salt Lake metro area $640 in additional fuel consumption, tire wear and extra maintenance from rough roads. The area also has the state’s highest percentage – 66% – of poor (29%) and mediocre (37%) rated roads. Additionally, Utah’s Provo-Orem area roads are in such poor condition, they rank 22nd worst among the nation's medium-size urban areas costing drivers an extra $583 a year in that region.

These findings were released Thursday, July 23, 2015 by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. The report, Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother,” examines urban pavement conditions, transportation funding, travel trends and economic development.

This past legislative session, Utah policymakers passed HB 362, which reformed the state’s gas tax that will largely support maintenance and preservation for the state’s highways and freeways – not local roads. Additionally, a recent report from the Utah Foundation, a local think-tank, echoed these finding as 82% of city and 95% of county officials believe current transportation funding is insufficient. The report also found that every dollar invested in preventative road maintenance saves $10-$25 in costly future rehabilitation work. 

“Our cities and county officials have been grappling with deteriorating roads and funding. Now we have hard data on just how much of an impact this has on an average Utahn,” said Abby Albrecht, director of the Utah Transportation Coalition. “The costs of doing nothing in this case are far higher for the average Utah family than the proposed voter-approved local-option, which would only cost a penny for every four dollars, some counties are evaluating placing on the ballot.“