Report: Road congestion costing midstate commuters - abc27 WHTM

Report: Road congestion costing midstate commuters

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It's around noon, around Harrisburg, and commuters can barely get around on Interstate 81.

"It's backed up pretty badly today," said Rick Albright of Marysville as he overlooked the I-81 parking lot from the Shoppes at Susquehanna parking lot in Susquehanna Township. "And I don't even really know the reason."

Whatever the reason there is a cost, according to TRIP, a DC-based transportation research group. At a Capitol news conference Thursday, TRIP released a report showing congestion in the Harrisburg-York-Lancaster area costs $472 million every year.

It's not coincidental the report was released as Pennsylvania lawmakers are mulling a transportation package that would increase funding for roads, bridges and mass transit in the commonwealth. TRIP called on lawmakers to approve the additional dollars.

"This report helps the public actually see what is the cost of not doing anything for the transportation system, based on their daily commutes," said Frank Moretti, TRIP's policy and research director.

Three of the five most congested commutes in the midstate are in Lancaster.

Topping the list is Rohrerstown Road from Wabank Road to State Street. Number two is US 222 from New Danville Pike to PA 501/PA 272.

Checking in at number three, to no one's surprise, is I-81 between Shippensburg and the Dauphin-Lebanon county line.

"81 going north is always, always backed up," said Dorothy Rundall of Camp Hill. She added for emphasis a third "always."

Tracy Swingly of Harrisburg works just off I-81. She knows the back roads, but says co-workers are always getting detained.

"I hear people complaining about it at work," Swingly said. "More often than not, there's somebody late to work because of something going on on that highway."

Interstate 283 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Harrisburg is number seven on the list of most congested midstate roadways. The report says the average commuter here wastes 25 hours and $460 a year.

"What would you pay to have more time with your family?" asks Moretti. "And have more free time and also burn less fuel?"

That very question is causing legislative gridlock in the hallways of the Capitol.

The Senate has already passed a bill that would raise $2.5 billion to fix roads, but the money would come from increased prices at the pump and a hike in PennDOT fees for drivers' licenses and registrations. House Republicans fear voter backlash next year if they approve those hikes.

Albright says get it done.

"I think it's inevitable that everything eventually goes up and road maintenance has to be done, so sooner or later we have to pay for it," he said.

And as the TRIP report shows, commuters are already paying in wasted time and gasoline.

"The cost of solving the problem is far less than what they're already paying to deal with the problem," said Jason Wagner, managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association.


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