Region's most congested route costs drivers extra $2,600, study finds

Rush hour drivers spend 143 hours/year on Route 22 from I-78 to Route 33

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Published: Jun 20 2013 02:41:52 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2013 05:20:21 PM EDT
Route 22 traffic

The average rush hour driver on the region's most congested highway is spending a lot of extra time and money, 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 the Lehigh Valley has four of the 10 most congested routes in the region; the other six are in Berks.

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 has been the topic of debate in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania 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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