Archive for the 'Construction News' Category

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Hiring Surges

CEU2“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Construction employment december 2014The U.S. construction industry added 48,000 jobs in December, including 22,800 jobs in nonresidential construction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary estimate released Jan. 9. November’s estimate was unchanged in this release, remaining at 20,000 net new construction jobs, but nonresidential construction’s November jobs figure was upwardly revised to 7,100 jobs.

“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This represents good news for the construction industry in 2015 and perhaps beyond, particularly with respect to office construction, retail construction, and other segments that benefit directly from accelerating job growth and decreasing unemployment. Overall, the economy has built steady momentum since the end of last winter adding an average of 246,000 jobs per month in 2014, an increase of more than 50,000 jobs added per month compared to 2013.”

According to the BLS household survey, the national unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December. This represents the lowest level of unemployment since June 2008. The declining unemployment rate is most likely a result of a labor force that shrank by 273,000 persons in December, after expanding in the previous two months. The labor force participation rate fell by .02 percent and now sits at 62.7 percent.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the report is that construction unemployment ended the year at 8.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis,” said Basu. “While construction firm executives have been worried for years about the specter of construction skills shortages, the BLS data indicate there are plenty of people looking for jobs in construction. It is likely that many of these prospective workers lack the skills necessary to fill the openings construction firms are seeking to fill or live in areas where construction employment growth is much slower. Normally, high construction unemployment would imply slow rates of wage and compensation increases; however, ABC believes this is not the case. Because of the presence of skills mismatches, wage gains are likely to be sizeable in 2015 even in the presence of lofty rates of construction unemployment.”

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment expanded by 10,000 for the month and is up by 23,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent, since December 2013.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 800 jobs in December and is up by 44,500 jobs, or 7 percent, on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 12,800 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 76,900 jobs, or 3.7 percent, from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors gained 12,700 jobs in December and have added 87,600 jobs, or 5.6 percent, since December 2013.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment gained 11,600 jobs in December and job totals are up by 57,900, or 6.6 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

To view the previous employment report, click here.

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost Arkansas Motorists Approximately $2 Billion Annually. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Funding Boost

TRIPRoads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Arkansas motorists a total of $2 billion statewide annually 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 and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Arkansas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, “Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that, throughout Arkansas, nearly a third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways are in poor condition. Nearly a quarter of Arkansas’ bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest nationally and the state’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

Driving on deficient roads costs the state’s motorists approximately $2 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. A breakdown of the costs statewide and per motorist in Little Rock area is below.

Arkansas 1The TRIP report finds that 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition and 42 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 26 percent are rated good.   The report finds that 23 percent of major locally and state-maintained rural roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition, 46 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 31percent are rated good.

A total of 23 percent of Arkansas’ bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Seven percent of Arkansas’ bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 16 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-Little Rock“Safe and well-maintained highways are critical to Arkansas’ economic development,” said Commissioner Robert Moore, of the Arkansas Highway Commission. “Poor roads and highways cost Arkansans money and, in some cases, lives. While, on the other hand, adequate funding to improve Arkansas highways creates private-sector jobs, improves our business climate, attracts new business and industry, and keep motorists safe.”

Traffic crashes in Arkansas claimed the lives of 2,849 people between 2008 and 2012. Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.13. Arkansas’ non-Interstate rural roads have a fatality rate in 2012 of 2.71 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than three times the fatality rate of 0.87 on all other roads and highways in the state.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. 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.

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Arkansas. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fees. In July, Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The legislation will also transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.

“These conditions are only going to worsen if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Arkansas is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

ARKANSAS TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Arkansas

$2 Billion

 

$1,674

 

Driving on deficient roads costs Arkansas residents $2 billion annually statewide. These costs include additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. In the Little Rock urban area, the average driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on deficient roads.
#5 Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the fifth highest in the nation.
5702,849 On average, 570 people were killed annually in Arkansas traffic crashes from 2008 to 2012, a total of 2,849 fatalities over the five year period.
3X The fatality rate on Arkansas’ non-interstate rural roads is more than three that on all other roads in the state (2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.87).
32%23% Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and 23 percent of the state’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition.
23 % A total of 23 percent of Arkansas bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Seven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 16 percent are functionally obsolete.
26 hours The average driver in the Little Rock urban area loses 26 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion.
$102 billion

$112 billion

Annually, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
$1.42

 

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

$1.00 = $5.20

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.

Executive Summary

Arkansas’ extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Arkansas’ surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-StatewideAs Arkansas looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Arkansas’ roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

With a current unemployment rate of 6.0 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Arkansas must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Arkansans. Meeting Arkansas’ need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Arkansas.

An inadequate transportation system costs Arkansas residents a total of $2 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Arkansas roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated that the average Little Rock driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on roads that have deterioration, are congested or lack some desirable safety features.

Arkansas 2

Population and economic growth in Arkansas have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Arkansas’ population reached approximately 2.9 million in 2012, a 25 percent increase since 1990. Arkansas had 2,199,164 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Arkansas increased by 60 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 21 billion VMT in 1990 to 33.5 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Arkansas is projected to increase by another 30 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, Arkansas’ gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 64 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

A lack of adequate local, state and federal funding has resulted in nearly a third of major urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways in Arkansas having pavement surfaces in poor condition. These deteriorated conditions provide a rough ride and cost motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 42 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Twenty-six percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Twenty-three percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Thirty-one percent are rated in in good condition.
  • More than three-quarters of major urban roads in the Little Rock area are deteriorated. Fifty-three percent of major urban roads in Little Rock are in poor condition and an additional 26 percent are in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major roads in Little Rock are in fair condition and the remaining nine percent are in good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Arkansas motorists a total of $1.1 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • 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.
  • Driving on rough roads costs each Little Rock area motorist $902 annually per in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Twenty-three percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Arkansas show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Seven percent of Arkansas’ 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.
  • Sixteen percent of Arkansas’ bridges are functionally obsolete.       Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest in the nation. Improving safety features on Arkansas’ roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2008 and 2012 a total of 2,849 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arkansas, an average of 570 fatalities per year.
  • Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation. The national traffic fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel was 1.13 in 2012.
  • The fatality rate on Arkansas’ rural non-Interstate roads was 2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than three times the 0.87 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • 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 the next 20 years.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Arkansas, 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.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Little Rock urban area loses $545 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.
  • The average commuter in the Little Rock urban area wastes 26 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • The increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. The increased levels of congestion can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company to consider expansion or even 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 employees, and higher consumer costs.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant 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, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Arkansas are carried by trucks and another ten percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • 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 2011 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.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.

The federal government is a critical source of funding for Arkansas’ roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Arkansas in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.

  • If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • Numerous projects have been completed throughout Arkansas since 2005 that relied heavily on federal funding, including the widening of portions of I-40 and I-540 and the replacement of a US Highway 82 bridge over the Mississippi River in Chicot County. Appendix A details projects completed since 2005 as a result of significant federal transportation funding.
  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has already suspended $60 million in planned construction projects due to the uncertainty of the future status of the Highway Trust Fund. Suspended projects include the replacement of the Highway 70 (Roosevelt Road) bridge and the Remount Road Bridge in Pulaski County, widening of five miles of Highway 167 in Independence County, and widening 1.5 miles of Highway 63 in Lawrence County. Further project suspensions and delays are anticipated until Congress resolves the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Many needed projects in Arkansas will require significant federal transportation funds to proceed, including the Springdale Northern Bypass, construction of a new three-lane arterial to provide a north-south corridor in northwest Arkansas, and the reconstruction of 8.5 miles of I-440 in the Little Rock area. A full list of projects can be found in Appendix B.
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report also found that the current backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements is $740 billion.

Sources of information for this report include the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Recoupment of Defense Costs

CON May Pg 36

Appeared in the May 2014 issue of Construction News.

TRIP Report: JACKSON , MS AREA DRIVERS WASTE MORE THAN $1,500 EACH YEAR DRIVING ON DEFICIENT ROADS – A TOTAL OF $1.6 BILLION STATEWIDE. SIXTY-EIGHT PERCENT OF JACKSON AREA MAJOR ROADS NEED IMPROVEMENT, MORE THAN ONE FIFTH OF MISSISSIPPI BRIDGES NEED REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT

TRIPMore than two-thirds of Jackson’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition, more than one fifth of the state’s bridges need repair or replacement, and Mississippi’s drivers experience growing congestion and delays. In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, Mississippi’s rural roads have a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than all other roads in the state. Increased investment in transportation improvements could improve road and bridge conditions, ease congestion, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Mississippi, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. The TRIP report, Mississippi Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” provides data on key transportation facts and figures in the state.

 

$1.6 billion

TRIP estimates that Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.

$1,506

$1,272

Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Jackson area driver $1,506 annually. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, the average driver loses $1,272 each year.

28%

68%

46%

Twenty-eight percent of Mississippi’s roads are either in poor or mediocre condition.  Sixty-eight percent of Jackson-area major locally and state- maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, 46 percent of major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

728

3,638

5th

From 2007 to 2011, an average of 728 people were killed annually in Mississippi traffic crashes, a total of 3,638 fatalities.  Mississippi’s traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 was the fifth highest level nationally.

 

2X

The fatality rate on Mississippi’s non-interstate rural roads is more than double that on all other roads in the state (2.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.99).

 

22 %

A total of 22 percent of Mississippi bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Fourteen percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and eight percent are functionally obsolete.

59 %

35 %

Vehicle miles of travel in Mississippi increased 59 percent from 1990 to 2011 and are expected to increase another 35 percent by 2030.

$470 million

If a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in Mississippi could be cut by $470 million for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014.

 

$1.27

51%

 

From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $1.27 for road improvements in Mississippi for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.   From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 51 percent of state spending on Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges.

 

$1.00 = $5.20

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced roadway maintenance costs, and reduced emissions.

Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion each year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and traffic crashes. Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Jackson area driver $1,506 annually and the average Gulfport/Biloxi area driver $1,272 annually.

“This study is further evidence that Mississippi’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at an alarming rate,” said House Transportation Chairman Robert Johnson. “The effects of weather and heavy traffic on our roadways is becoming a public safety issue that the legislature cannot ignore. Improving our transportation infrastructure is not only vital for public safety concerns, it directly impacts Mississippi’s ability to attract new businesses and retain existing industries. Our future economy depends on it.”

Growing traffic congestion, particularly in the state’s urban areas, threatens to choke commuting and commerce. The average commuter in the Jackson metro area loses 25 additional hours each year stuck in traffic due to traffic congestion and the average commuter in the Gulfport/Biloxi metro area loses 24 additional hours each year stuck in traffic due to traffic congestion.

Traffic crashes in Mississippi claimed the lives of 3,638 people between 2007 and 2011. The state’s 2011 traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT) is significantly higher than the national average of 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT and was the fifth highest among all states, behind only Montana (1.79), West Virginia (1.78), South Carolina (1.70) and Arkansas (1.67). The traffic fatality rate in 2011 on Mississippi’s non-Interstate rural roads was 2.27 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than double the 0.99 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.

“These key transportation numbers in Mississippi add up to trouble for the state’s residents in terms of deteriorated roads and bridges, reduced traffic safety and constrained economic development,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Improving road and bridge conditions, improving traffic safety and providing a transportation system that will support economic development in Mississippi will require a significant boost in state and federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”

Executive Summary

Mississippi’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Mississippi’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

As Mississippi looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

With a current unemployment rate of 8.5 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Mississippi must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Mississippians. Meeting Mississippi’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21(Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21Century Act), will fund surface transportation programs in Mississippi at an average of $469 million annually for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), will fund surface transportation programs in Mississippi at an average of $469 million annually for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

While the new federal surface transportation program has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. As a result, nationwide federal funding for highways will be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting on October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Mississippi.

An inadequate transportation system costs Mississippi residents a total of $1.6 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the annual cost to Mississippi residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features both statewide and in the state’s largest urban area. The following chart shows the cost breakdown for these areas.

Population and economic growth in Mississippi have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Mississippi’s population reached nearly 3 million in 2012, a 16 percent increase since 1990. Mississippi had 1,926,603 licensed drivers in 2011.
  • Vehicle miles traveled in Mississippi increased by 59 percent from 1990 to 2011 – jumping from 24.4 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 38.9 billion VMT in 2011.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Mississippi is projected to increase by another 35 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2011, Mississippi’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 47 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Twenty-eight percent of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in Mississippi have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

•           Eight percent of Mississippi’s major roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 20 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 52 percent are rated in good condition.

  • The pavement data in this report for all arterial roads and highways is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in the state.
  • In the Jackson urban area, 45 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor condition and 23 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of Jackson’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 21 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-nine percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Gulfport/Biloxi area are rated in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of major urban roads in the Gulfport/Biloxi are rated in fair condition and 38 percent are rated in good condition.
  • 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. Roads rated in mediocre condition may show signs of significant wear and may also have some visible pavement distress. Most pavements in mediocre condition can be repaired by resurfacing, but some may need more extensive reconstruction to return them to good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Mississippi motorists a total of $627 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Jackson motorist $741 annually in extra vehicle operating costs. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, the average driver loses $531each year as a result of driving on deteriorated roads.

More than one-fifth of locally and state-maintained bridges in Mississippi show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Fourteen percent of Mississippi’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.
  • Eight percent of Mississippi’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Significant levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Mississippi, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Jackson urban area loses $594 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Jackson urban spends an additional 25 hours per year stuck in traffic as a result of traffic congestion.
  • TTI estimates that the average driver in the Gulfport/Biloxi urban area loses $522 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Gulfport/Biloxi urban spends an additional 24 hours each year stuck in traffic as a result of traffic congestion.

Mississippi’s traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes is more than double that on all other roads and highways in the state. Improving safety features on Mississippi’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2007 and 2011 a total of 3,638 people were killed in traffic crashes in Mississippi, an average of 728 fatalities per year.
  • Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 is higher than the national average of 1.10, the fifth highest level nationally.
  • The fatality rate on Mississippi’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.27 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2011, more than double the 0.99 fatality rate in 2011 on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in Mississippi in 2011 in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor was approximately $573 million.
  • In the Jackson urban area, the cost of serious traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $171 annually per motorist. The cost of serious traffic crashes in the Gulfport/Biloxi area in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $219 per motorist.
  • 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 the next 20 years.

The efficiency of Mississippi’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and reliable 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, $91 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Mississippi and another $104 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Mississippi, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Mississippi are carried by trucks and another four percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • 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 2011 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • A 2013 report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the $1.4 billion spent annually on road, highway and bridge construction and maintenance in Mississippi supports approximately 37,000 full-time jobs, including approximately 18,400 jobs in transportation construction and related activities and approximately 18,600 jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • 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.

The federal government remains a critical source of funding for Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Mississippi in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.

  • The MAP-21 program, approved by Congress in July 2012, greatly increased funding flexibility for states and streamlined project approval processes to improve the efficiency of state and local transportation agencies in providing needed transportation improvements in the state.
  • MAP-21 does not provide sufficient long-term revenues to support the current level of federal surface transportation investment. Nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • If the funding shortfalls into the federal Highway Trust Fund are addressed solely by cutting spending it is estimated that federal funding for highway and transit improvements in Mississippi will be cut by $470 million for the federal fiscal year starting October 1, 2014, unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $1.27 for road improvements in Mississippi for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 51 percent of state spending on Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges.

Sources of information for this report include the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Veterans as a Valuable Resource, Feature Article, August 2013 ACP Magazines

Helmets to Hardhats-1Helmets to Hardhats-2