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The Highway Users Provides Info on the Economic Impact of Snowstorms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Cathy Gillen, cathygillen@highways.org, 202.857.1200 (o), 443-463-4449 (c)

As Winter Storms Wreak Havoc Again in 2011, the American Highway Users Alliance Provides Info on the Economic Impact of Snowstorms

Sixteen-state study highlights the costly nature of snow-related,
impassable roadways

(January 11, 2011 — Washington, DC) — Today, as another winter storm heads up from the southeast, through the mid-Atlantic and up the northeast coast, the American Highway Users Alliance (The Highway Users) is making available a study estimating the economic impact of snowstorms in sixteen U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

The study, by IHS Global Insight, found that hundreds of millions of dollars in economic opportunity are lost each day that a state is shuttered by impassable roads.  Further, the study found that hourly workers are the most harshly impacted by such shutdowns, representing America’s most economically vulnerable demographic.

“Lost wages of hourly workers account for about two-thirds of the direct economic impact of a major snowstorm,” said James Gillula, Managing Director of Global Insight and the principal researcher of the study.  “Among all workers, hourly wage workers can suffer the most painful economic losses and the indirect economic effects of their lost wages can ripple through the economy.”

The study, The Highway Users noted, gives needed perspective on the true costs of what is often thought of as harmless and fun.  State and local transportation authorities throughout the country are under unprecedented pressure to cut their transportation budgets.  Many authorities that gambled on lower winter maintenance costs than last winter are now reporting that funding for equipment, workers, and salt is drying up.  The Highway Users’ report indicates that these budget cuts are pennywise and pound‑foolish.  It should serve as a wakeup call to government to be prepared for the worst every year.

According to Highway Users President Greg Cohen:  “The shocking losses estimated by this study should light a fire under state and local authorities nationwide to get serious about investing in quicker and more effective snow and ice removal.  When roads are left unsafe or impassible, it is more than a public safety issue — it’s like money being thrown down the drain.”

The study further examined the indirect economic impacts caused by snow closures, including lost tax revenue and significant losses in the restaurant, general merchandise, and service station industries. These indirect impacts more than doubled the initial direct impact of each storm.

States and provinces covered by the study include:

Illinois, $400 million lost per day
Indiana, $157 million lost per day
Iowa, $70 million lost per day
Kentucky, $96 million lost per day
Maryland, $184 million lost per day
Massachusetts, $265 million lost per day
Michigan, $251 million lost per day
Minnesota, $167 million lost per day
Missouri, $162 million lost per day
New Jersey, $289 million lost per day
New York, $700 million lost per day
Ohio, $300 million lost per day
Pennsylvania, $370 million lost
Utah, $66 million lost per day
Virginia, $260 million lost per day
Wisconsin, $149 million lost per day
Ontario, $474 million lost per day
Quebec, $250 million lost per day

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The American Highway Users Alliance represents AAA clubs, bus companies, truckers, RV enthusiasts, motorcyclists and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members advocate public policies that improve highway safety and mobility.

IHS Global Insight provides the most comprehensive economic and financial information available on countries, regions, and industries, using a unique combination of expertise, models, data, and software within a common analytical framework to support planning and decision making.

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