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Transportation in 2012: Soaring milestones, harsh misses

Friday - 12/28/2012, 2:01pm  ET

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - As the year comes to a close, the gap between the good and the bad in 2012 transportation has created a roller coaster.

For the Baltimore/Washington area, AAA Mid-Atlantic says some of the most painful memories were filling up at the pump.

Although gas prices have fallen during the past three months, the average annual price for gas in 2012 goes down as the most expensive on record. Drivers will have spent an extra $2 billion on gas this year.

On the brighter side, work zone safety has improved in Maryland. Crashes, fatalities and injuries in these work zones are at a low of more than 10 years.

AAA says since the state launched its work zone speed cameras in 2010, fatalities dropped by 67 percent and crashes dropped by 16.8 percent. Speeding tickets in the construction sites also plummeted by 80 percent.

Virginia's E-ZPass Express Lanes, formerly known as High Occupancy Toll lanes made their entrance in 2012. Those on the Capital Beltway are already open, but those on southbound Interstate 95 are still under construction. The I-95 Express Lanes Project will run from Edsall Road to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. They are slated to open in 2015.

A road-building spree has been underway in D.C., with the 11th Street Bridge Project coming in on top as the biggest in the city's history.

The summer derecho taught the region a thing or two. The monster storm left millions without power, but it also left motorists stranded on the Bay Bridge mid- storm asking why officials didn't close the bridge.

A tractor-trailer almost blew off the bridge and trapped motorists behind the wreckage. The fallout from the event forced the Maryland Transportation Authority to revise its bridge-closing policy.

On the dark side of 2012, early estimates show that 25,580 people across the nation lost their lives in traffic fatalities during the first nine months of the year. That's a 7.1 percent increase from the highway death toll nationwide over the same period in 2011.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)