It’s not only frustrating for motorists to drive on Illinois’ crumbling, congested roads, it’s costly, too.

It’s costing Illinois motorists more than $18 billion a year in damaged vehicles and wasted time to maneuver on those roads according to a study conducted by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group.

The group released its findings this week as part of an ongoing effort by various interest groups to press for a new capital bill for Illinois.

“We think this TRIP report shows that doing nothing is actually much more expensive than coming up with a solution together,” said Whitney Barnes of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber supports a 25-cents-per-gallon increase in the state gasoline tax to pay for transportation projects. As part of that, the chamber wants the state to stop applying the sales tax to gasoline sales, which would save motorists money but create an estimated $600 million hole in the state budget.

The TRIP study said the total cost of the state’s overcrowded and deteriorating road system to motorists is $18.3 billion a year. TRIP determined that drivers in the Peoria and Bloomington areas are paying $1,528 a year in vehicle operating costs from driving on roads in need of repair, wasting time and fuel sitting in traffic because of congestion and from damage caused by crashes in which road conditions were a contributing factor. Of the six larger metropolitan areas examined by the study, Springfield ranked last in those costs at $1,294.

The study determined that 57% of major locally and state-maintained roads roads in the Peoria and Bloomington area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $610 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Statewide, 8% of bridges are rated poor or structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Peoria-Bloomington area, 10% of bridges are considered poor or structurally deficient.

According to the report, traffic congestion in the Peoria-Bloomington area is worsening, causing 16 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $376 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

“The potholes in suburban Cook County look like lunar landscapes,” said state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, who’s been working on a capital bill. “We fail to look at our transportation infrastructure and treat it as a vital utility in our lives.”

“The real question we have to ask is what is the cost if we do nothing,” said Sen. Donald DeWitte, R-St. Charles, the Republican negotiator on the bill.

The various ideas floated to pay for transportation projects all include an increase in the 19-cents a gallon gasoline tax that hasn’t been increased since 1990. Increases in various vehicle fees, like license plates, are also included.

Although details of a capital bill have yet to be made public, interest groups continue to mount a public relations campaign to convince lawmakers and the public to support a building program and tax increases needed to pay for it. Transportation interests have held several news conferences to publicize their case and more recently, proponents of so-called vertical building projects have been doing the same.