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WSDOT: Highway congestion will cost the state jobs, and billions in lost production
Increased congestion on Washington’s highways could result in thousands of lost jobs in freight-dependent businesses and a more than $3 billion hit to the state economy, according to a new Washington State Department of Transportation report.
A 20 percent increase in congestion would lead to a loss of more than 27,500 jobs and $3.3 billion in output, according to the report.
“There is no question increased congestion has a negative impact on our state’s freight-dependent businesses,” said Paula Hammond, Washington’s transportation secretary. “Our transportation investment strategies must put a priority on economic corridors – those routes to and from our ports, farms and factories.”
Hammond said the study reinforces the need for transportation-funding options to implement the needs identified by the Connecting Washington Task Force. The task force recommended $21 billion in transportation investments over the next 10 years to maintain and preserve the existing system of highways, ferries and rail, and to invest in key economic corridors, among other priorities.
Not only will more traffic impact business, according to the report, it will hurt customers as well. Freight businesses were asked how they would deal with the increased costs related to traffic.
Close to 60 percent say they would pass increased congestion-related costs onto consumers, 19 percent would absorb the costs, and 12 percent would close or move out of Washington.
Freight haulers note congestion-related costs such as fuel and labor, new equipment and more time products spend on the road, not on the shelves, lead to higher prices for consumers.