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INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED

INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED, BUT STATE STILL FACES $2.5 BILLION SHORTFALL IN PROJECTS NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITION OF AGING ROADS & BRIDGES, INCREASE SAFETY AND PROMOTE ECONOMIC GROWTH AS ENERGY-RELATED FUNDS DECREASE

 While increased transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of the state’s energy boom, has allowed numerous projects to proceed, additional investment is still needed to improve road and bridge conditions, enhance safety and accommodate projected growth,according to a new report from TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, DC.

The TRIP report, Modernizing North Dakota’s Transportation System: Progress & Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways & Bridges,” finds that with the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation projects. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018. The state faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities and improve roadway safety. The chart below details needed transportation projects throughout the state that lack funding to proceed.

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014, and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. The state’s population increased by 18 percent from 2000 to 2017 and is expected to increase another 38 percent by 2040. North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased 133 percent from 2000 to 2014, the highest rate in the nation during that time. However, the state’s GDP decreased seven percent from 2014 to 2016, the largest decline in the nation during that time. And while North Dakota experienced the largest increase in vehicle miles of travel (VMT) in the nation from 2000 to 2014 (46 percent), the state also experienced the largest decrease in VMT from 2014 to 2016 (seven percent). Energy extraction levels in North Dakota have begun rising again in 2018 following a modest downturn in 2016 and 2017, resulting in additional economic activity and vehicle travel in North Dakota, which will increase wear and tear on the state’s roads, highways, and bridges.

“North Dakota has made investments in recent years out of necessity because of the energy boom and paid for those investments with energy revenue,” said Arik Spencer, president & CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC). “This report makes clear more needs to be done. These findings are consistent with the wishes of GNDC’s members, who consistently cite infrastructure as one of their greatest concerns and name it as a top priority for the next legislative session.”

Nearly two-thirds of North Dakota’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, with pavement conditions projected to decline in the future without additional funding. According to the TRIP report, 36 percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition. The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue. NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.

According to the TRIP report, 14 percent of North Dakota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.  The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota.  The average number of bridges NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.

Traffic crashes in North Dakota claimed the lives of 643 people between 2013 and 2017. The state’s rural, non-Interstate roads are particularly deadly, with a traffic fatality rate that is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).

The efficiency and condition of North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges.

“While the increase of energy-related revenues allowed North Dakota to make strides in improving its transportation system, declining energy-related transportation revenues will result in reduced road and bridge repairs, leading to worsening road, highway and bridge conditions in the state,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Ensuring that North Dakota’s transportation system contributes to a high quality of life in the state and supports North Dakota’s economic development goals will require increased transportation investment.”

Executive Summary

North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges form vital transportation links for the state’s residents, visitors and businesses, providing daily access to homes, jobs, shopping, natural resources and recreation.  The condition, efficiency and funding of North Dakota’s transportation system are critical to quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Peace Garden State.

North Dakota has experienced a significant boom in energy extraction in its western counties that, since 2005, has resulted in a ten-fold increase in crude oil production, spurred by advancements in extraction technology and increases in fuel prices.  While the state’s energy boom has resulted in a tremendous increase in wear and tear on the state’s roadways, it has also provided a significant boost in transportation funding. The modest decrease in energy extraction in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017, as a result of reduced energy prices, has significantly reduced the amount of additional energy-related revenue in North Dakota available for transportation investment. And despite the surge and subsequent drop in energy-related transportation revenues, North Dakota continues to face a significant backlog in needed funding for transportation, largely as a result of a lack of an adequate, dedicated state funding source for road, highway and bridge repairs and improvements.

This report examines the condition, use, safety and funding of North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges and the state’s future mobility needs.  Sources of information for this report include the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

An increase in transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, has allowed many needed road, highway and bridge projects to proceed.  With the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation improvements. 

  • From 2012 to 2018, $3 billion in state energy-related revenues were spent on transportation improvements in North Dakota. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018.
  • The $3 billion in energy-related revenue used for transportation in North Dakota represents 63 percent of the $4.8 billion in state revenue provided to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), from 2012 to 2018.
  • North Dakota faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities, and improve roadway safety.
  • Largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, NDDOT has been able to proceed with numerous projects to improve the condition, safety and reliability of its roads, highways and bridges.
  • The chart below details North Dakota transportation projects that have been completed, are underway or will be completed by 2021 because of increased state transportation funding, largely due to increased energy-related state revenue.
  • The chart below details needed transportation projects in the state that lack adequate funding to proceed.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014 and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. 

  • North Dakota’s population reached approximately 755,000 residents in 2017, an 18 percent increase since 2000. North Dakota had 555,935 licensed drivers in 2016.
  • North Dakota’s population is expected to increase by 38 percent by 2040 to 1,045,000, an increase of 290,000 people.
  • From 2000 to 2014, North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 133 percent, when adjusted for inflation, the highest rate in the nation during that time. From 2014 to 2016, North Dakota’s GDP decreased by seven percent, when adjusted for inflation, the greatest rate of decline in the nation during that time.
  • Crude oil production in North Dakota increased from 98 thousand barrels a day in 2005 to 1.17 million barrels per day in 2015 before declining to 1.03 and 1.06 million barrels per day in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in North Dakota increased by 46 percent from 2000 to 2014, the greatest rate of increase in the nation during that time. VMT in North Dakota decreased by seven percent between 2014 and 2016, the greatest decrease in the nation during that time.

NORTH DAKOTA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in approximately one-third of major urban roads and highways in North Dakota having pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Thirty-six percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Eleven percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 25 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Eight percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 15 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Thirteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 64 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.
  • TRIP estimates that additional vehicle operating costs borne by North Dakota motorists as a result of driving on deteriorated roads is $250 million annually, or $449 per driver

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA

Approximately one-in-seven locally and state-maintained bridges in North Dakota show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Fourteen percent of North Dakota’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.
  • The average number of bridges that NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota
  • Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer.In North Dakota, 46 percent of the state’s bridges (2,030 of 4,377) were built in 1969 or earlier.
  • A recent survey of states by the U.S. General Accountability Office(GAO) found that more than half of states surveyed (14 out of 24) reported that inadequate funding was a challenge to their ability to maintain bridges in a state of good repair.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN NORTH DAKOTA

Improving safety features on North Dakota’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

  • A total of 643 people were killed in North Dakota traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 128 fatalities per year.
  • North Dakota’s overall traffic fatality rate in 2016 of 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is below the national average of 1.18.
  • The fatality rate on North Dakota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).
  • 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; the use of high-friction surfacing treatment to improve skid resistance; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; improved road markings; improved signage and delineation at curves; and, improved intersection design.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN NORTH DAKOTA

The current federal surface transportation program, which expires in 2020, falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. Boosting federal surface transportation spending will require that Congress provide a long-term and sustainable source of funding to support the federal Highway Trust Fund. 

  • 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, which expires in 2020, 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.
  • Crafting a long-term federal highway and transit program to replace the expiring FAST Act in 2020 would likely require Congress to identify a long-term, sustainable source of funding to support increased funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which currently has a balance of $44 billion, but which is expected to reach a negative balance by 2021.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTH DAKOTA

The efficiency of North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy.  A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.  The design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in North Dakota are significant sources of employment in the state.  

  • Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-four percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in North Dakota are carried by trucks and another 11 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in North Dakota support 13,258 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $667 million annually.
  • Approximately 215,200 full-time jobs in North Dakota in key industries like energy, tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
  • 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 one site selection factor in a 2017 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.  Labor costs and the availability of skilled labor, which are both impacted by a site’s level of accessibility, were rated second and third, respectively.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  All data used in the report are the most recent available.  

TRIP Reports: WISCONSIN MOTORISTS LOSE $6.8 BILLION PER YEAR DRIVING ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,300 PER DRIVER. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION AND HIGHER COSTS TO DRIVERS

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Wisconsin motorists a total of $6.8 billion statewide annually –up to $2,321 per driver in the state’s largest urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge, and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Wisconsin, according to a new report recently released by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research group.

The TRIP report, Wisconsin Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,”finds that throughout Wisconsin, one-half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and nine percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. The report also finds that Wisconsin’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce.

Driving on roads in Wisconsin costs the state’s drivers $6.8 billion per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Eau Claire, Green Bay-Appleton-Oshkosh, Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau areas.  A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 31 percent of Wisconsin’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and 19 percent are in mediocre condition. Seventeen percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 33 percent are in good condition.  Driving on rough roads costs the state’s drivers $3.1 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs, or an average of $747 per driver, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Until state elected officials are able to agree on long-term, sustainable transportation funding, Wisconsin will be unable to meet mounting needs on our local roads and state highways,” said Daniel J. Fedderly, executive director of the Wisconsin County Highway Association.  “The current funding system causes us to be reactive, responding from one crisis to the next.  We would much rather be working proactively on a shared sense of vision that can move our communities and state forward, and represent our citizens across Wisconsin.”

Traffic congestion in Wisconsin’s major urban areas is worsening, causing up to 41 annual hours of delay for some motorists and costing the state’s drivers a total of $1.9 billion each year in lost time and wasted fuel.

Nine percent of Wisconsin’ bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

Traffic crashes in Wisconsin claimed the lives of more than 2,800 between 2012 and 2016. Wisconsin’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.95 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.18.  The fatality rate on Wisconsin’s non-interstate rural roads is nearly two and a half times that on all other roads in the state (1.43 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.61). The financial impact of traffic crashes costs the state’s drivers $1.8 billion annually.

The efficiency and condition of Wisconsin’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $580 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Wisconsin, mostly by trucks, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to relocate 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. The design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin support more than 64,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy.

“Driving on deficient Wisconsin roads comes with a $6.8 billion price tag for the state’s motorists,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Adequate funding for the state’s transportation system would allow for smoother roads, more efficient mobility, enhanced safety, and economic growth opportunities while saving Wisconsin’s drivers time and money.”

RDO welcomes 2018 Topcon Technology Roadshow to North Dakota

RDO welcomes 2018 Topcon Technology Roadshow to North Dakota

RDO Integrated Controls announces the arrival of the 2018 Topcon Technology Roadshow to Bismarck, North Dakota. From July 10 and 11, the expandable semi-trailer truck with a seated theater room and product showcase stops in Bismarck along with the RDO team.

The Topcon Technology Roadshow features the latest construction, survey, civil engineering, architecture and design technologies in a hands-on environment across North America. The free program features live demonstrations and presentations focused on productivity and profitability.

“Attendees have the opportunity to see the newest technology coming to market, from machine control to total stations to mass data capture solutions,” said Adam Gilbertson, VP, RDO Integrated Controls. “What’s especially exciting is they have the chance to get hands-on with it and experience the technology to really understand how it can help them become more profitable and efficient in their work.”

Scott Langbein, Topcon Positioning Group director of marketing in the Americas, said, “We are excited to welcome Montana area positioning professionals make informed positioning technology decisions with our The Intersection of Infrastructure and Technology theme — the crossroads where construction productivity is improved by applying advanced positioning technology.”

For more information, visit topconroadshow.com.

About Topcon Positioning Group
Topcon Positioning Group is headquartered in Livermore, California, U.S. (topconpositioning.com).

TRIP Reports: Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall

Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall, Leading To Increasingly Deteriorated & Congested Roads Amid Declining Transportation Funding. Between $779 Million To $1 Billion In Needed Projects Outside Major Urban Areas Not Able To Move Forward

Amid a declining level of funding available for maintenance and improvement to the state’s roads and bridges, Minnesota faces a $2.8 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next four years, leading to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, a lack of safety improvements, and increasing congestion due to increases in vehicle travel. This is according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. TRIP’s report identifies unfunded transportation projects in areas outside the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas, costing between $779 million and $1 billion, that are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety. The amount of funding available for road maintenance and improvements by the state, counties and municipalities is projected to decrease by 16 percent from FY2016 to FY2021.

The TRIP report, Moving Minnesota Forward: Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” examines road and bridge conditions, travel trends, economic development, highway safety, transportation funding, and the status of needed transportation improvements in statewide and in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas.

Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained, urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition. Due to a lack of funding, the number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

Six percent of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.

“The data is clear,” said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “Minnesota’s transportation system is facing critical needs and the cost of maintaining and improving our network of roads, bridges and transit systems grows every year. It’s time for the Legislature and Governor to compromise and move forward a comprehensive transportation funding package that addresses the needs throughout our state.”

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Minnesota drivers in the state’s largest urban areas lose as much as 47 hours annually as a result of traffic congestion, totaling up to $1,035 in lost time and wasted fuel each year.

The chart below details needed projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. The report also includes needed but unfunded projects in the Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities urban areas.

 

“With an already large transportation funding shortfall and a dwindling level of transportation funding available in the coming years, Minnesota is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional transportation funding will allow the state to move forward with dozens of needed projects that will provide a smoother, safer and more efficient transportation system for drivers, and allow the state’s businesses to maintain and expand their competitive edge.”

Executive Summary

A decade after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Minnesota’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the North Star State.

Minnesota’s 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.

The state faces a $2.8 billion shortfall in funds needed over the next four years to make needed improvements to its transportation system. The annual shortfall during this period is projected to more than double, leaving dozens of needed transportation projects throughout the state stranded on the drawing board and unable to proceed.

With population and employment growing steadily, Minnesota must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and maintain and attract business. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Minnesota’s need to further modernize its transportation system will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require additional transportation investments and a commitment to providing roads and highways that are safe, smooth and efficient. While a sound transportation system is key to economic growth and quality of life, numerous transportation projects in the state — which are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion, improve roadway safety and enhance economic development opportunities — remain unfunded, threatening Minnesota’s future progress in providing a safe, efficient, well-maintained transportation system.

POPULATION, TRAVEL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN MINNESOTA

The rate of population and economic growth in Minnesota has resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

Minnesota’s population reached approximately 5.5 million residents in 2016, a 12 percent increase since 2000. Minnesota had approximately 3.4 million licensed drivers in 2015.

  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Minnesota increased by 13 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 52.6 billion VMT in 2000 to 59.6 billion VMT in 2016. VMT in Minnesota increased five percent just in the last three years (2013 to 2016).
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Minnesota is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Minnesota’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 26 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.

ROAD CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

A lack of adequate funding has left more than a quarter of Minnesota’s major urban roads and highways with pavement surfaces in poor condition. Based on current funding projections, the condition of state-maintained roads is expected to deteriorate significantly in the future.

  • Overall, 15 percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fifteen percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 53 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twelve percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fourteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 57 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Due to a lack of funding, the number of miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major, locally and state-maintained roads and highways in the state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

Six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Minnesota 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.

  • Six percent of Minnesota’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.
  • MnDOT estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.
  • Six percent (706 of 11,016) of Minnesota’s rural bridges are structurally deficient, while four percent (94 of 2,339) of the state’s urban bridges are structurally deficient.
  • The chart below details the total number of bridges and the share of structurally deficient bridges statewide and in each of Minnesota’s counties.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MINNESOTA

Improving safety features on Minnesota’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Minnesota’s rural roads have a fatality rate that is significantly higher than that on all other roads in the state. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • A total of 1,922 people were killed in Minnesota traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 384 fatalities per year.
  • The fatality rate on Minnesota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly three and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.40).
  • A disproportionate share of traffic fatalities take place on Minnesota’s rural roads, compared to the amount of traffic they carry. While rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 34 percent of all vehicle miles of travel in Minnesota in 2015, they accounted for 63 percent of fatalities.
  • The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural, non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides. Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes with narrow lanes.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve. While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.
  • Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the amount of funding available and the nature of the safety problem on that section of road.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also by making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.
  • 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; 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. 

MINNESOTA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion by the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the annual cost of traffic congestion per driver in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Minnesota faces a significant and growing transportation funding shortfall. Due to inadequate transportation funding in the state, many needed projects that would improve conditions, expand capacity and enhance traffic safety will not move forward, at least for the next five years.

  • MnDOT projections show that the amount of funding available for maintenance and improvements to roads and highways maintained by state, county and local municipalities will decrease by 16 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2021. The chart below details the declining funds available for roads and highways maintained by MnDOT, counties and municipalities from 2016 through 2021.

 

  • MnDOT projects a $2.8 billion shortfall from fiscal year (FY) 2018 to FY 2021 in state transportation funding for state and locally maintained roads, highways and bridges in funding needed to maintain roads, highways and bridges; improve traffic safety; and, make further modernization and capacity improvements to support economic development and quality of life in Minnesota. By FY 2021, the shortfall is expected to more than double from FY 2018, reaching $835 million. The chart below details the additional amount of funding needed each year to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, modernize the system, and provide additional capacity. 
  • The chart below details needed preservation or reconstruction projects in Duluth, Rochester, Minneapolis-St. Paul and statewide that currently lack adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These include $429-536 million in projects in Duluth, $1-1.4 billion in projects in the Twin Cities, $43-53 million in projects in Rochester and $289-383 million in projects elsewhere in the state.

  • The chart below details capacity expansion or safety projects in the Twin Cities and throughout the state that are needed but will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These projects include $768 million – $1.1 billion in projects in the Twin Cities area and $490-648 million in projects in other areas of the state. 

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MINNESOTA

Investment in Minnesota’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. The nation faces a significant shortfall in needed funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.

  • 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 a boost of approximately 15 percent in national highway funding and 18 percent 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 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance report submitted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to Congress, the nation faces an $836 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements to the nation’s roads, highways and bridges.
  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety.

 TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MINNESOTA

The efficiency of Minnesota’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, $519 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Minnesota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-five percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Minnesota 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 Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.

Wells Fargo Minnesota Labor Market Update: March 2017

Employers added another 5,300 jobs in March across Minnesota following February’s 6,200-job gain, which was stronger than first reported. The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 3.8 percent in March.

Strong Jobs Report for Minnesota in March

Non farm payrolls were up by 5,300 jobs in Minnesota, all of which were in the private sector. Government employment was unchanged on the month. Professional & business services payrolls rose by 4,900 jobs—most of the gain was in administrative positions. Management and professional & tech services added 1,100 and 300 jobs, respectively. Mining & logging added 400 jobs in March which brings its year-to-year gain to 861 jobs, a welcome contrast from this time last year when the Iron Range was cutting positions due to the decline in commodity prices. Manufacturers also added jobs in March which brought factory payrolls above their year-ago level for the first time in nine months. Construction hiring took a breather in March but remains one of the fastest growing sectors over the year, rising 5.6 percent.

Minnesota’s household employment data improved solidly. The jobless rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 3.8 percent, after holding at 4.0 percent for seven months. The drop results from a huge 10,00o-worker rise in civilian employment, which easily outpaced labor force growth. Minnesota’s employment-population ratio rose to a cycle-high of 66.9 percent.

Personal Care and Management Occupations Top Growth

The most recent Occupational Employment data show more Minnesotans work in health care, personal care services, management and computer & mathematics than a decade ago, while there are fewer office support, sales, production and construction workers. Production and office support jobs have become increasingly vulnerable to automation. By contrast, food services saw a large jump in its share of jobs nationwide over the past ten years, but not in Minnesota. There were 60 percent more personal services workers in Minnesota in 2016 than in 2006, however, the largest increase among occupation groups. This category counts personal care aides, where demand is being driven by the state’s older population. Unfortunately, personal care services median earnings were the second lowest, besting only food services workers.

There were also strong increases among Minnesota’s high-paying jobs. Minnesota’s increase in management positions over the past decade was particularly notable, with the category adding 36,300 positions and accounting for 28.5 percent of the new jobs over the decade. Management positions are the highest paying occupation category in the state. The typical management job earned $100,290 in 2016, 2.5 times the average job. Healthcare practitioners & technical workers, which include doctors, nurses, therapists and technicians—saw the third largest increase, while computer & math jobs saw the fourth largest rise over the decade. All this is good news for Minnesota’s highly-educated workforce. Conversely, the decline in production, construction, sales and administration positions means options have narrowed for those without advanced training or qualifications, which has hindered economic mobility within the state.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor and Wells Fargo Securities