By Carolyn Gusoff

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Traffic is nearly back to what it was before the pandemic in New York, and drivers are paying a price.

Crumbling roads are costing drivers millions of dollars every year, and even though money is coming from Washington, advocates say the need is urgent.

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John Cossman calls himself Dr. Wheel and his schedule is full as he heals the hurt inflicted by Long Island roads.

“A lot of bent wheels, blown tires every day,” he told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “The frozen temperatures, it’s gonna be even worse.”

Customers are losing time and money.

“They’re horrific. It’s like driving in a third-world country. Our biggest problem on Long Island is the asphalt, it doesn’t stay together. It falls apart. It crumbles. And you get these freeze-thaw cycles,” said Robert Smith, an auto dealership employee.

Now, there’s a report that quantifies the losses.

TRIP, the transportation nonprofit, calculates New York City area drivers lose nearly $3,200 per year, including $760 in repairs and $2,100, or 92 hours, lost in traffic.

The report also says 44% of our major roads are in poor condition and 10% of bridges statewide are poor or structurally deficient.

“Pot holes everywhere. You wonder where the tax money is going,” one driver said.

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“It’s like riding on a roller coaster, baby. It’s a lot of up and down and bouncing around,” another driver said.

The federal infrastructure package will infuse nearly $1 billion into New York roads.

“The state will be releasing a budget next week, and we’re hoping that there’s going to be ample funding,” said Cheri Rice, with the Long Island Contractors Association.

“The key is that it’d be an incremental investment and that the state of New York and any state in the union take this additional money and put it to work,” said John Cooney Jr., with the Construction Industry council of Westchester and Hudson Valley.

Our antiquated roads are also costing lives. The study found one-third of fatalities in New York are partially attributed to the lack of road safety measures.

Suffolk legislator Kevin McCaffrey says some money must go into fixing safety flaws.

“We need a complete overhaul. Take a look at these roadways that were designed in the 1920s and 1930s by Robert Moses to make it up to standards that we need today,” he said.

The report concludes local investment in our roads needs to speed up.

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Statewide, the combined cost of damage from roads and time wasted in congestion was estimated to be $28 billion.

Carolyn Gusoff