WASHINGTON - Driving on congested roads in Berks County costs commuters as much as $829 each year depending on which route they travel, according to a report released Thursday by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.
The report identified the most expensive congested corridors in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley in terms of lost time and wasted fuel. It found that Berks has six of the 10 most congested routes in the region.
- Penn Avenue (Route 422) between Morwood and Woodside avenues in Spring Township: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 45 hours, 19 additional gallons of gas, and $829 annually, or $16 weekly.
- Route 222 from Dries Road in Maidencreek Township to the Lehigh County line: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 42 hours, 18 additional gallons of gas, and $767 annually, or $15 weekly.
- Pricetown Road (Route 12) from Elizabeth Avenue to Route 662 in Alsace Township: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 21 hours, nine additional gallons of gas, and $384 annually, or $7 weekly.
- Route 422 from Monocacy Creek Road in Amity Township to the Pottstown Bypass in Douglass Township: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 18 hours, seven additional gallons of gas, and $322 annually, or $6 weekly.
- Lancaster Avenue from Route 625 to the West Shore Bypass (Route 422) in Reading: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 17 hours, seven additional gallons of gas, and $307 annually, or $6 weekly.
- State Hill Road from Penn Avenue in Wyomissing to Van Reed Road in Spring Township: This corridor costs the average rush hour driver 17 hours, seven additional gallons of gas, and $307 annually, or $6 weekly.
In total, traffic congestion in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley results in the use of an additional 8.5 million gallons of fuel and the loss of 19 million hours annually, the study found.
"Congested roadways limit opportunities for employment, economic growth, education, recreation and social opportunities," said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.
TRIP calculated each route's traffic congestion delay based on data provided by PennDOT on the average time it takes to travel each corridor during peak hours and during non-congested periods.
To estimate the amount of time and fuel lost annually by commuters traveling on these segments, TRIP said it compared travel times during rush hour and non-congested periods.
"Increasing congestion is robbing commuters of time and money at a time when many can ill afford it," said Jason Wagner, managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA). "Without a significant investment in Pennsylvania's transportation system, drivers will continue to waste time and fuel, businesses will lose their competitive edge and quality of life will be diminished."
Transportation funding is a hot-button topic in Pennsylvania right now. The state Senate has come up with a $2.5 billion plan that's currently being considered by House lawmakers; Gov. Tom Corbett favors a less costly plan.
Both proposals rely mainly on gradually increasing a wholesale gas tax by 28.5 cents a gallon over several years, giving Pennsylvania among the nation's highest fuel tax rates.
The Pennsylvania Governor's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission found that the state currently needs to spend an additional $552 million each year on projects to relieve traffic congestion.
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