Baton Rouge among US cities with worst roads, report says

    With 65% of Baton Rouge metro area roadways in either “poor” or “mediocre” condition, motorists here are paying a hefty price to travel over them—$705 more per year in additional vehicle operation costs—according to a new national report from TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group.

    The report ranks Baton Rouge as having the nation’s 11th-highest share of roadways in poor condition—38% of all roads here are deemed as such—among mid-sized U.S. metro areas with populations between 250,000 and 500,000. The Shreveport metro area is ranked No. 12, with 36% of its roadways in poor shape. And New Orleans is ranked No. 25 among U.S. metro areas with populations at 500,000 or more, with 42% of its roadways rated poor.

    In Baton Rouge, the TRIP report, released this morning and based on 2013 ratings for roadways, says just 18% of roadways are rated in “good” condition. Sixteen percent are rated “fair,” 27% are mediocre and 38% are poor. The resulting extra costs to motorists here come in the form of accelerated vehicle deterioration and depreciation, as well as increased maintenance required, higher fuel consumption and increased tire wear.

    The Baton Rouge figures—both for its share of roadways in poor condition on the resulting additional cost to motorists—exceed the national average, TRIP says. In 2013, 28% of the nation’s roadways were deemed substandard, costing the average urban driver $516 per year.

    But shoddy roads aren’t just costing Baton Rouge motorists and those in other U.S. metro areas. They’re also having an overall negative economic impact, says Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition.

    “The deteriorating condition of our nation’s urban roads threatens the health of the nation’s economy, reducing the efficiency of a region’s businesses and employers,” Kavinoky says in a prepared statement. “Attracting jobs and expanding a region’s economy requires a well-maintained, efficient and safe transportation system. Funding needed transportation improvements must be a top priority at the federal, state and local levels and Congress must do its part by authorizing an adequately funded, long-term federal transportation bill.”

    The nationwide annual cost of driving on deteriorated roads totals $109.3 billion, according to the TRIP report, “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother.”

    See the complete report.

    —Steve Sanoski

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