Report: Poor Maryland roads cost drivers about $2,000 a year

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Metro and Traffic

Poor road conditions in Maryland are costing drivers in the Washington area about $2,200 a year, according to a new report released by a transportation research group.

TRIP, a national transportation research group based in the District, said roads in Maryland are crumbling and are gridlocked -- costing drivers time and money.

The $2,200 factors in fuel costs, lost time while sitting in traffic, and wear and tear caused by driving on poorly maintained roads.

The group also found 41 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition. In Maryland's Washington suburbs, that percentage climbed to 62 percent.

David Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said while he thinks some of the methodologies used in the study are flawed, he agrees that more money needs to be put into rebuilding a crumbling transportation infrastructure.

But the Maryland fund for roads maintenance and transportation projects is drying up. The Transportation Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt by 2018 without new funding, and it has no money for any new road or transit projects.

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who is chairman of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, said the findings show a lack of investment from state lawmakers. He said he and other transportation advocates are frustrated with seeing Virginia push forward on major transportation projects and improvements while Maryland seemingly drags its feet.

The Virginia General Assembly last weekend passed a transportation-funding package that includes $3.5 billion over the next five years for roads and an additional $300 million to complete Metro's Silver Line to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Duncan -- who is running for his former seat -- said he supports legislation proposed by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. to allow counties to add their own gasoline taxes up to 5 cents above the 23.5-cent-per-gallon tax.

But Miller has said that Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has not offered his own plan, needs to take leadership over the issue before any legislation advances. They and House Speaker Michael Busch met Thursday afternoon to discuss transportation funding.

Busch says the goal is to raise $600 million for transportation funding but declined to give specifics as to what the plan would include.

Andy Brownfield contributed to this report.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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