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Bad Roads and Bridges Cost Illinois Drivers Billions of Dollars


Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Illinois motorists a total of $16.4 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,485 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.

Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Illinois, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, “Illinois Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Illinois, more than one-third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and nine percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. The report also finds that Illinois’ major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce.

Illinois motorists lose a total of $16.4 billion per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Chicago, Champaign-Urbana, Metro East, Peoria-Bloomington, Rockford and Springfield urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 27 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Illinois are in poor condition and nine percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s motorist an additional $3.5 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Illinois’ infrastructure is vital to propel the state forward as an economic powerhouse,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch. “From Chicago to the Metro East, this report, which reflects similar numbers to that of Illinois state agencies, reveals the reality of Illinois’ transportation systems from congestion to safety. Knowing where our state stands in these areas is crucial to understanding our state’s needs.”

Nine percent of Illinois’ bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

The Illinois Department of Transportation projects that, under current funding levels, the percentage of state-maintained roads and bridges in need of repairs will increase significantly in the next five years.

Traffic congestion in the state’s largest urban areas is worsening, causing as many as 63 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver as much as $1,484 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

Traffic crashes in Illinois claimed the lives of 4,947 people between 2012 and 2016. Illinois’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.01 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.18. The fatality rate on Illinois’ non-interstate rural roads is approximately three times higher than on all other roads in the state (2.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.78). The financial impact of traffic crashes cost Illinois drivers a total of $4.7 billion annually.

“Illinois is home to the second largest public transportation system in the nation, covering our largest metropolitan area in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Still, mobile sources represent the largest source of air pollution in Illinois, which is further exacerbated through traffic congestion in our urban areas,” said Illinois EPA Director Alec Messina. “We are focused on finding opportunities to fund projects that increase the use of public transportation and reduce congestion and environmental impacts.”

The efficiency and condition of Illinois’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $2.9 trillion in goods are shipped to, from and within Illinois, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Illinois supports 154,001 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Illinois’ transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”