BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A report released on Thursday showed the Baton Rouge area has some of the most deteriorated roads in the US, which costs drivers hundreds of dollars a year in additional vehicle operating costs.
The study by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, DC, found 38 percent of the roads in the Capital area are in poor condition, costing drivers an extra $705 per year on their vehicles.
"Baton Rouge roads are among the most deteriorated in the country which probably comes as no surprise to drivers there, but what they probably don't realize is that they're losing over $700 each year as a result of driving on these rough roads," said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly with TRIP.
"The poor condition of the Baton Rouge area's roads and bridges, combined with the region's growing traffic congestion, makes traveling in the State's Capital quite a challenge," Ken Naquin, CEO of the Louisiana Associated General Contractors, said in a written release. "The pace of economic development in the Baton Rouge area is being slowed by the region's deficient roads."
The report focused on mid-sized urban areas of 250,000 to 500,000 people. Baton Rouge ranked No. 11 in roads in poor condition and No. 12 in annual costs to drivers traveling on rough roads.
Driver Abdul Haqq got stuck Thursday on one of Baton Rouge's most notorious rough roads, Government St. The 38-year-old said he ran over a pothole in the small bus he drives.
"I have to get new shocks. I have a lot of rattle and tear noise, things like that now from all the potholes," said Haqq.
Haqq came to a stop just before the railroad tracks past S. 14th St. He couldn't get over them.
"Lot of people are stopping right now, lot of buses are stopping next to me thinking that there's a train coming," said Haqq.
"I don't think anybody in Baton Rouge are surprised by the report. I think the ultimate question is how do we solve that problem," said Naquin.
DOTD has some ideas. They manage Government St., and officials say they have good news for drivers like Haqq.
"Government Street right now is inline to get a complete overhaul in the next couple of years," said Rodney Mallett, Communications Director with DOTD.
Mallett said the multimillion dollar project will repave Government between East Blvd. and Lobdell Ave. DPW, who repairs city roads, also said they're working to make improvements. Management said workers are training to use a new machine to help patch roads faster.
There is growing concern that the expiration on July 31 of a federal program that is considered a "critical source of funding for road and highway repairs" will threaten the future condition of roads and highways across the country.
"With state and local governments struggling to fund needed road repairs and with federal surface transportation funding set to expire this month, road conditions are projected to get even worse," Will Wilkins, TRIP's executive director, added in the written release. "Congress could reduce the extra costs borne by motorists driving on rough roads by authorizing a long-term, adequately funded federal transportation program that improves road conditions on the nation's major roads and highways."
The study ranked Flint, Michigan as having the worst roads and Temecula-Murrieta, California as costing drivers the most in additional vehicle maintenance.