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Poor roads cost Canadians $3 billion: Study for CAA

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New transportation study reveals poor road infrastructure costing Canadians $3 billion annually; findings to help support CAA’s advocacy work on issues of concern to its members.

Key findings:

To find out how much poor roads are costing Canadian motorists, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) came to CPCS – a transportation advisory firm known to deliver evidence-based solutions for complex infrastructure issues.

The analysis shows that poorly maintained roads are costing Canadians $3 billion every year. These costs mostly relate to repairs and maintenance, as well as depreciation, fuel and tire wear.

“People usually associate the cost of poor roads with the cost of government spending to fix them,” says CPCS’s senior transportation consultant and the study’s project manager, Veiko Parming. “What our study shows is that, when these roads are not fixed, motorists also pay the price.”

CPCS’s study relied on Statistics Canada’s Core Public Infrastructure Survey, a newly available data source. It’s the first database to aggregate road quality data from thousands of asset-owning agencies nationwide from provincial ministries of transportation to municipal roads departments.

CPCS took this data and developed a model to calculate the dollar impact incurred by motorists. The model accounts not only for differences in road quality by province, but also differences in vehicle kilometres driven, vehicle stock, baseline operating costs and roadway stock by province. CPCS also included internationally recognized research on how pavement quality impacts vehicle operating costs.

“We came up with an approach based on the latest available data and research,” adds Veiko, pointing out that the incremental operating costs are calculated based on a realistic counterfactual of an adequately maintained road network – not a hypothetical scenario where all roads are brand new.

“We thank CAA for trusting CPCS to take a fresh look at an interesting and important issue.”

CAA previously turned to CPCS for two other high-profile studies: a 2017 report on Canada’s worst traffic bottlenecks and a 2018 report on tools and technologies to alleviate congestion.

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Further reading:

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