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Compensation for congestion costs? Not gonna happen.

Leonard Gilroy
August 6, 2008, 10:11am

Well, at least she tried:
When Carol Greenberg got stuck in a work-zone backup on southbound I-275 at its merge with I-75 in Monroe County late last month, she did more than just fume about it. [...] Mrs. Greenberg sent MDOT a $16 bill for the gasoline she figured she'd wasted idling in traffic. "Thousands of vehicles from both Interstates, including mine, sat an estimated 50 minutes, wasting thousands of dollars worth of $4-per-gallon gasoline, belching tons of emissions into the atmosphere," she wrote. [...] Even before getting a response from MDOT, Mrs. Greenberg estimated her chance of getting her "bill" paid was zero - "I just sent it in to vent about it" - and in that regard, the state didn't surprise her.
The Michigan DOT's response was classic:
"It is not MDOT's policy to reimburse motorists for lost time, wages, or gas when traveling through or near a work zone. Please understand, if we paid out for one, we would have to pay out for all and that is simply not feasible," MDOT's Kari Arend wrote to Mrs. Greenberg.
Of course "congestion compensation" isn't feasible--the costs would be gargantuan. In Detroit, the costs of congestion in 2005 alone were estimated to exceed $2.1 billion, and travelers wasted over 76 million gallons of fuel in congestion. Unfortunately, the state of Michigan faces major transportation challenges which are exacerbated by its ailing economy and budget outlook. Reason's recent 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems ranked Michigan in the bottom fifth of states (#42) with regard to the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 different categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance costs, and administrative costs. For more details, and data on your own state, click here. And for Reason's body of work on congestion solutions, visit our Transportation center and our Galvin Project to End Congestion.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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