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Rough Roads Costing Mass. Drivers Hundreds Each Year

BOSTON (CBS) - The condition of many roads around here makes for an uncomfortable ride. They can also make it expensive.

Drivers like John Kambouris are frustrated by the situation. "I don't really want to get started on the potholes around here because nothing annoys me more." He recently spent $250 to replace a tire.

Galen Street Sunoco owner Mike Shaloub keeps adding to the tire graveyard on the side of his Watertown shop. He said ruined tires are just part of the problem drivers face. Axles are often ruined, and alignments are common.

According to a report by the transportation think tank TRIP, 39% of the Boston area roads are in poor condition. That is 19th worst in the country for a large metropolitan area.

In Worcester, 41% of the roads are considered sub-par for a rank of 9th worst among medium sized cities.

Shaloub is not surprised these findings. "We have a lot of snow here, and all the salt. The salt affects the roads, and the plows."

Weather is just part of the equation, according to Tony Puntin, Executive Director of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. He says a surge in truck volume is battering the roads. "To be honest, truck traffic is really the biggest concern from a wear and tear point of view."

Trucks really beat up the road, but cars have an impact too. Overall traffic volume is up more than 20% in Massachusetts over the past two decades.

Compounding the problem is road maintenance that gets deferred. That means small problems can become big ones, like when a giant pothole recently opened up on Route 24 during the morning rush, backing up traffic.

A giant pothole on Route 24 (WBZ)

Puntin explained, "One of the things about infrastructure, especially bridges and roadways, is that they don't denigrate linearly. That is, it's not a slow steady decline to a certain condition. Once they hit a certain level, there is a precipice that the infrastructure declines."

These conditions are a constant assault on our cars, and can mean frequent trips to mechanics like Shaloub. He said an initial visit for a tire might be in the $200 range, but if something like steering is compromised, the costs can soar. "You can go to $2,000-$3,000, depending on the damage to the car."

The damage can really add up. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates drivers pay $478 annually in car repair costs because of the road conditions in Massachusetts. In Worcester, an estimate by TRIP puts the estimate at $600 which is among the highest in the country.

Puntin believes the situation will not improve until funding for repairs keeps pace with the rate of deterioration. Until then, drivers like Chynna Pope will keep getting stuck with repair bills. "I get new tires all the time. My rims are beat up. It's tough."

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