Shocking: Study From Guys Who Build Roads Says Texas Must Build More Roads

Bitching about how terrible the roads are in Dallas is a time-honored tradition. It's also easy. Quantifying just how terrible they are? That's more difficult. Luckily for you, TRIP, a D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to transportation research, just released its annual "Future Mobility in Texas" report.

First, the bad news. Bad roads cost Texans $23.2 billion per year through wrecks, maintenance costs, tire wear, increased gas consumption, and wasted time. In Dallas, the per-driver cost breaks down to $1,543.

Some of that cost comes from the 312 fatal traffic accidents in DFW last year, some from the fact that 47 percent of roads in Dallas are in poor or mediocre condition, and some simply because the roads don't have the capacity to handle current traffic levels.

Things aren't getting any better, either. Bond money is running out, and funding for road construction and maintenance in the state is about to be cut in half, to $2.6 billion per year, despite a needs assessment by the Texas Transportation Institute that found that $9.9 billion is needed. The need will only continue to grow as the state's economy and population continues to grow.

Now, the good news. The cost of driving in Dallas is actually down from where it was two years ago, and a driver here is better off than his counterpart in Houston, who spends $1,891. Plus, our roads aren't nearly as poor as San Antonio, where 67 percent are in serious need of repair, and traffic fatalities are down considerably from levels five years ago.

The other bit of good news is that this is one problem that can be fixed by pouring money into transportation infrastructure. (What solution would you expect from a nonprofit whose board of directors is made up almost entirely of representatives of the road construction industry? Increased investment in public transit?). If the investment doesn't happen, TRIP predicts dire consequences for cars and the people who drive them.

The catch, of course, is that there has to be money to throw around and the political will to do so. Which is about as likely as, well, the road construction industry advocating for public transit.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson