WILKES-BARRE – According to a nonprofit research group, drivers in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area spend an extra $1,320 every year on car repairs, fuel costs and lost time because of the area’s congested and deficient roads and highways.
A report from TRIP, a nonprofit research group backed by bridge makers and insurance companies, says drivers spend an average of 20 hours waiting in traffic backlogs, and burn about 9 extra gallons of fuel annually.
Tiffany Hewitt of Wilkes-Barre told Newswatch 16 that she’s been late to work several times this month because of backlogs on Interstate 81.
"It’s not really fun getting stuck and then calling and saying you’re going to be late for work because you're sitting in traffic,” said Hewitt.
A contractor and property manager from Scranton, who runs five vehicles in three counties, said detours and delays due to construction and road closures costs him thousands.
“It affects the gas budget, it affects the amount of time people take to do jobs that aren`t supervised. So yeah, I take it in the wallet pretty hard,” said Harry Barke.
The president of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association told Newswatch 16 that part of the state funding shortfall is due to the flat gas tax, which is 32 cents per gallon.
"Our revenue has been going down because people are actually buying less fuel. Every time they buy a new car, the efficiency goes up,” said Tom Lawson.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said the federal government needs to provide more assistance to maintain the commonwealth’s infrastructure.
"'It`s a question of how will the government charge it? Are we going to charge you to fix the problem, or are we going to ignore it and allow the costs to incur in the basis of congestion and safety? It's your choice," said Schoch.