Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Roadways Nothing to Rage about; First Coast Network Measures Up, Nonprofit Group Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Roadways Nothing to Rage about; First Coast Network Measures Up, Nonprofit Group Says

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID HUNT

The nation's crumbling road system sticks the average motorist with a $413 annual bill, a study says.

But Jacksonville drivers appear to have swerved around the national pothole.

The Washington-based nonprofit transportation research group TRIP published its research on deteriorated roads Wednesday. Jacksonville's roads, while not the best in the nation, still scored comparatively well.

TRIP rated 74 percent of roads in the Jacksonville metro area as "good," 13 percent "fair," 9 percent "mediocre," and 4 percent "poor."

The First Coast was bested by Atlanta and Boston with 89 and 76 percent "good" ratings, respectively, to rank third nationally in the category among metropolitan areas of more than 500,000 residents.

The study links rough rides along rough roads to an increased need for maintenance and fuel. It found that bumps, cracks and potholes nationwide have racked up bills at the repair shop and the gas pump.

Los Angeles drivers see the worst of it, with an average expense of $778 that the study links directly to infrastructure needs. The national average is $413, but Jacksonville drivers are getting away with about a quarter of the expense: $120.

The study also found that travel on urban roads increased by 39 percent from 1990 to 2005, but commercial trucking, which puts a greater strain on the infrastructure, increased by 49 percent. The study projects overall vehicle travel to increase by 30 percent and trucking to go up 39 percent by 2020.

The number of deteriorated roads has decreased since 2002, the study notes, but maintenance problems are expected in the future. By 2025, the study projects a federal maintenance and repair shortfall of almost $400 billion.

Residential and business growth, which have clogged Northeast Florida with vehicles and given Clay County the distinction of having the longest commute in the state, may also be a blessing for the road system.

More cars means more projects, which means newer roads. …

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