Louisiana drivers are paying a congestion tax, as well as wasting time and money on sitting in traffic that is caused, in part, by Louisiana’s failure to adequately fund transportation, says Ken Perret, president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association (http://www.louisianagoodroads.org/index.html).
Baton Rouge has the worst traffic congestion in the nation among mid-sized cities, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) Urban Mobility Report 2010 (http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/mobility_report_2010.pdf). The College Station, Texas-based organization is a part of Texas A&M University system and a Texas state agency.
The cost to Louisiana’s capital city drivers is equivalent to 37 hours, 30 gallons of gasoline and $1,003 spent sitting in traffic every year. New Orleans-area drivers aren’t doing much better. They spend an extra 31 hours, 23 gallons of gasoline and $772 each year due to traffic congestion.
“Our traffic problems didn’t happen overnight,” Perret says. “We shortchanged our system for years to get to this point.” Louisiana’s primary means of transportation funding is a state gasoline tax, which has remained at twenty cents per gallon since the late 1980s, when voters approved a four-cent increase to fund the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development (TIMED) program (http://www.timedla.com/). Because the fuel tax is based on the quantity of gasoline sold, rather than the price of the gasoline, revenues available for transportation projects remain flat while costs have soared.
Because of the report, transportation advocates in Louisiana and elsewhere can now “put a dollar figure on that congestion tax,” Perret says.
According to the report, congestion is a problem in America’s 439 urban areas, costing $115 billion, an additional 4.8 billion hours of travel time and 3.9 billion gallons of fuel. Congestion costs exhibit an upward trend from $24 billion in 1982 and $85 billion in 2000.
Congestion is not limited to peak traffic house. The report indicates that roughly half of all total delays occur outside of peak hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For the complete report and congestion data on different cities, log onto http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums.