07/13/08 — Officials say U.S. 70 stops hurt gas mileage

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Officials say U.S. 70 stops hurt gas mileage

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 13, 2008 2:00 AM

The stop-and-go traffic along U.S. 70 from Clayton to Morehead City is more than inconvenient to the motorists who travel along the highway -- it also siphons fuel and money from them.

On a typical day, 24,000 vehicles travel the 135-mile stretch, about 10 percent are trucks, Mike Rutkowksi of Kimley-Horn and Associates consulting firm told members of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission during their Thursday meeting in Goldsboro.

When most people think of fuel efficiency they think of smaller cars, octane boosters and properly inflated tires, he said.

However, highway design also plays a part, Rutkowksi said.

There are 60 traffic signals, 264 median openings and thousands of curb cuts that create a stop-and-go environment for vehicles, he said.

Stop-and-go traffic causes a drop in fuel efficiency, he said.

In 2007 with fuel costing $3 a gallon, 3,173,492 vehicle miles were traveled per day on the 135-mile section of road. Approximately 202,400 gallons of fuel were used for a daily fuel cost of $607,000 and annual cost of $221 million.

With gas prices now at $4 per gallon and assuming the same number of vehicle miles and fuel consumption, the daily cost is $800,000 and the annual cost $292 million.

Upgrading U.S. 70 to freeway status would boost fuel efficiency by eliminating the stop-and-go pattern, Rutkowksi said.

Assuming the same mileage and lower freeway fuel consumption, the daily cost would be $657,000 and the annual cost $240 million.