TRIP Reports on Michigan Roads & Bridges
Despite Recent Transportation Funding Increase, Michigan Road And Bridge Conditions Continue To Deteriorate And Traffic Fatalities And Traffic Congestion Are Increasing. A Total Of $3.3 Billion In Needed Transportation Improvement Projects Still Lack Funding
Increased transportation funding provided by Michigan’s legislature in 2015 will allow the state to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of its transportation system; however, the funding is not sufficient to prevent further deterioration of the state’s roads and bridges or to move forward with $3.3 billion in needed projects, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Modernizing Michigan’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” finds that even with the additional transportation funding- which is not guaranteed beginning in 2019 – state pavement and bridge conditions will decline. Traffic fatalities in Michigan increased significantly in the last two years and the state has experienced the eleventh highest rate of increase in vehicle miles of travel since 2013.
As a result of the funding increase passed in 2015, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023. The legislation will provide a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding through 2023, of which $2.3 billion from the General Fund is not guaranteed and will be distributed at the discretion of the legislature beginning in 2019.
And, despite the recent infusion of funding, Michigan’s state-maintained roads and bridges are expected to continue to deteriorate. The condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years, with the share of lane miles in poor condition increasing from 20 percent in 2016 to 46 percent by 2020. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by 50 percent between 2016 and 2023.
“This report stresses the critical need of the region to improve its transportation infrastructure,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “As one of our 2017 legislative priorities, the Detroit Regional Chamber is committed to supporting the efforts by federal officials to increase investment in all forms of infrastructure.”
Vehicle travel in Michigan has increased by 10 percent between 2013 and 2016 – the 11th highest rate of travel growth among states during this period. Michigan has also experienced a significant increase in traffic fatalities over the last two years, increasing 20 percent between 2014 and 2016. In 2016 traffic fatalities surpassed 1,000 for the first time since 2007. There were 876 traffic fatalities on Michigan’s roads in 2014, 963 in 2015 and 1,047 in 2016.
“To continue our economic growth, the industries that drive Michigan need a well-maintained and dependable infrastructure network,” said Josh Lunger, director of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “This report shows the significance of the 2015 transportation funding package, and how critical it is that the Legislature make these commitments a top priority.”
The following statewide projects are either underway or will be underway or completed by 2020, partly due to increased transportation revenue in the state. The report also lists projects in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
“This report highlights the critical need to invest more in our transportation infrastructure,” said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). “Better roads save drivers money and enhance our economic competitiveness. Thriving cities have infrastructure in place to support business and economic growth. That’s why improving our transportation infrastructure is a top priority for the LRCC.”
The chart below details projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that will not move forward prior to 2020 due to a lack of transportation funding. The report also includes projects in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
“Michigan’s legislature took an important step in 2015 towards improving the condition of the transportation system and setting the state back on the road to economic recovery,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “While that was a good start, numerous needed improvements remain unfunded. Adequate investment in Michigan’s transportation system is a critical component in the state’s economic comeback.”
Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Michigan is beginning to recover, with its population and economy starting to grow again and vehicle travel increasing in response to the growth. But, the rate of recovery could be slowed if Michigan is not able to provide a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The rate of economic growth, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Great Lakes State.
An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.
With an economy based largely on agriculture, manufacturing, technology, natural resource extraction, and tourism, the quality of Michigan’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.
In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, registration fees and general funds. While this increased funding will allow the state and local governments to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of the state’s transportation system, the funding is not sufficient to adequately address the significant deterioration of the system, or to allow the state to provide many of the transportation improvements that are needed to support economic growth.
Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require “staying the course” with Michigan’s current transportation program and doubling down on this effort by obtaining additional increases in transportation investment.
POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS IN MICHIGAN
Michigan’s economy is beginning to recover following the Great Recession, with population, employment levels and vehicle travel approaching or surpassing pre-recession levels. The level of access and mobility will be a key factor in rebooting and growing the state’s struggling economy.
- Michigan’s population is again growing and nearing pre-recession levels after beginning to fall in 2005 and dropping each year until 2011. The state’s population has increased each year from 2011 to 2016 and is currently at 9.9 million residents.
- Michigan has approximately 7.1 million licensed drivers.
- After falling significantly during the recession, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) have surpassed pre-recession levels and continue to increase.
- Between 2013 and 2016, vehicle miles of travel in Michigan increased by 10 percent – the 11th highest rate of increase nationally.
- Michigan’s unemployment rate has returned to pre-recession levels. After beginning to rise in 2005 and peaking at 14.9 percent in mid-2009, the state’s unemployment is currently 4.9 percent.
ROAD CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN
A lack of adequate funding has left one-fifth of Michigan’s state-maintained roads and highways with pavement surfaces in poor condition. Despite recent action by Michigan lawmakers to increase transportation funding, the condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years.
- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimates that 20 percent of state-maintained roads are in poor condition in 2016.
- Despite the increased funding made available by Michigan lawmakers, the condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years. While the additional funding has been helpful and has prevented a more precipitous decline in conditions, it is not sufficient to improve the condition of the state’s roads and highways or even maintain their current condition.
- The number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase significantly in the next five years, with the share of lane miles in poor condition increasing from 20 percent in 2016 to 46 percent by 2020.
BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN
Approximately one-in-nine locally and state-maintained bridges in Michigan that are 20 feet or more in length show significant deterioration and are in need of repair. The share of state bridges that are deficient is expected to increase at current funding levels.
- Eleven percent of Michigan’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
- MDOT estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 50 percent from 236 bridges to 354 bridges between 2016 and 2023.
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MICHIGAN
Traffic fatalities in Michigan have increased significantly for the last two years, surpassing 1,000 deaths in 2016, the first time since 2007.
- The number of traffic fatalities in Michigan increased 20 percent from 2014 to 2016. In Michigan, there were 876 traffic fatalities in 2014, 963 in 2015 and 1,047 in 2016.
- 2016 was the first year since 2007 that traffic fatalities in Michigan exceeded 1,000.
- The fatality rate on Michigan’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was more than three-and-a-half times than on all other roads in the state (2.19 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.59).
- Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
- Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
- Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians and intersections; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
- Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior). TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over 20 years.
TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS Additional transportation funding provided by the state legislature in 2016 will allow MDOT to complete numerous needed projects throughout the state. While the additional dollars have been helpful, many needed projects still remain on the drawing board due to a lack of available funding.
- In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, such as gas taxes and registration fees and allocations from the General Fund.
- As a result of the funding increase, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023. The chart below details the amount (in millions) of state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges and transit.
- The 2015 transportation legislation will provide a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding through 2023, of which $2.3 billion from the state’s General Fund is not guaranteed and will be distributed beginning in 2019 at the discretion of the legislature.
- Additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation will allow Michigan to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded. The list below details a sampling of projects in Michigan’s major urban areas as well as throughout the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2020, partly due to increased revenue.
- Despite additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation, numerous needed transportation projects in Michigan remain unfunded. The list below details projects in Michigan’s major urban areas as well as throughout the state that lack adequate funding to proceed prior to 2020.
- The value of these needed transportation projects in Michigan that lack adequate funding to proceed is $3.3 billion, including $2 billion in the Detroit area, $483 million in the Lansing area and $234 million in the Grand Rapids area.
FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MICHIGAN
Investment in Michigan’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. Signed into law in December 2015, the five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source.
- Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process. But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
- The five-year, $305 billion FAST Act will provide approximately a 15 percent boost in national highway funding and an 18 percent boost in national transit funding over the duration of the program, which expires in 2020.
- In addition to federal motor fuel tax revenues, the FAST Act will also be funded by $70 billion in U.S. general funds, which will rely on offsets from several unrelated federal programs including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Customs.
- According to the 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report, a significant boost in investment in the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs.
- AASHTO’s report found that based on an annual one percent increase in VMT annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase 36 percent, from $88 billion to $120 billion, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs, based on an annual one percent rate of vehicle travel growth. Investment in the nation’s public transit system needs to increase from $17 billion to $43 billion.
- The Bottom Line Report found that if the national rate of vehicle travel increased by 1.4 percent per year, the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 64 percent to $144 billion. If vehicle travel grows by 1.6 percent annually the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 77 percent to $156 billion.
TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MICHIGAN
The efficiency of Michigan’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.
- Annually, $860 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Michigan, mostly by truck.
- Seventy percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Michigan are carried by trucks.
- Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
- Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
- The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.
Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.