July 23, 2015 / 8:26 PM / 3 years ago

Poor U.S. urban road conditions take toll on motorists' pocketbooks: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than a quarter of U.S. urban roads and interstate highways are in poor condition, costing motorists more than $500 annually, according to a report released on Thursday as Congress debates extending transportation funding.

The report, released by TRIP, a non-profit transportation research group in Washington, said driving on roads in disrepair could accelerate vehicle deterioration and increase needed maintenance and fuel consumption.

Among urban areas with a population of 500,000 or more, San Francisco’s roads were found to be the worst, with 74 percent of them in poor condition, according to the report. In the New York metropolitan area, 51 percent of roads were found to be in poor condition. Costs to motorists could run as high as $1,044 a year, the study said.

The U.S. Senate is debating a bill that would fund federal highway and rail transportation projects for three years. The Highway Trust Fund is set to expire on July 31.

Some opponents of the bill have argued a short-term extension of the fund would be best, as it would allow Congress to work on a six-year funding package later in the year. Others worry that poor road conditions and the resulting costs will worsen without a long-term bill.

In the House, lawmakers are considering an $8.1 billion plan to fund infrastructure projects until December.

“We can do better than the uncertainty of short-term extensions. America needs Congress to fully fund a multi-year surface transportation bill,” Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said in a statement.

“With state and local governments struggling to fund needed road repairs and with federal surface transportation funding set to expire this month, road conditions are projected to get even worse,” Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP, said in a statement.

Reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Peter Cooney

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