TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost South Carolina Drivers $3 Billion Annually – As Much As $1,300 Per Motorist.

TRIPDeficient Roadways Cost South Carolina Drivers $3 Billion Annually – As Much As $1,300 Per Motorist. Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Significant Funding Boost

  Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost South Carolina motorists a total of $3 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,300 per driver in some 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 and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in South Carolina, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout South Carolina, 46 percent of major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) are in poor condition, a significant increase from 2008 when 32 percent of the state’s major roads were rated in poor condition. One-fifth of South Carolina’s 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 South Carolina is tied with West Virginia for the highest overall traffic fatality rate in the nation.

Driving on deficient roads costs each South Carolina driver as much as $1,250 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 calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in South Carolina’s largest urban areas: Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

South Carolina 1The TRIP report finds that 46 percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) have pavements that were rated in 2014 as being in poor condition, while an additional 38 percent were in fair condition and 16 percent were in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs South Carolina motorists an additional $1.1 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Traffic congestion is worsening throughout the state, costing drivers a total of $775 million annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

“The South Carolina Department of Transportation manages the 41,000 miles of state funded roads with the third lowest motor fuel user fee in the nation. With an estimated additional $1.5 billion needed per year for the next 25 years to “get to good”, they are currently having to do the best they can with what they have,” said Eric Dickey, vice president of Davis & Floyd, Inc. and chairman of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads (SCFOR).

A total of 21 percent of South Carolina’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Eleven percent of South Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional ten 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.

South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.76 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the highest in the nation (tied with West Virginia) and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. Traffic crashes in South Carolina claimed the lives of 4,315 people between 2008 and 2012. The fatality rate on South Carolina’s rural roads was 2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, which is 61 percent higher than the national rural road average of 1.86 fatalities per 100 million miles.

The efficiency and condition of South Carolina’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in South Carolina. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.12 for road improvements in South Carolina for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees. In July 2014 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 get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, 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, South Carolina 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.”

SOUTH CAROLINA TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

 

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in South Carolina

 

$3 Billion

TRIP estimates that South Carolina 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 $3 Billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and Traffic Crashes.
Charleston – $1,168

Columbia – $1,250

Greenville – $1,248

The annual costs per motorist of driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features in South Carolina’s largest urban areas are: Charleston – $1,168; Columbia – $1,250; Greenville (including Spartanburg and Anderson) – $1,248.
Charleston – 37%

Columbia – 36%

Greenville – 48%

In the Charleston area, 37 percent of major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, Thirty-six percent of major urban roads in the Columbia area are in poor or mediocre condition and 48 percent of major urban roads in the Greenville metro area (including Spartanburg and Anderson) are in poor or mediocre condition.
863 deaths annually

4,315 deaths 2008 – 2012

From 2008 to 2012, an average of 863 people were killed annually in South Carolina traffic crashes, a total of 4,315 fatalities over the five year period.
 

Tied for 1st

 

The fatality rate on South Carolina’s routes is tied for the highest in the nation.   South Carolina’s rural fatality rate is also 61 percent higher than the national average (2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. a 1.86 national average).
 

21 %

As of November, 2014, 21 percent of South Carolina bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Eleven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and ten percent are functionally obsolete.
 

$1.12 return on $1.00

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.12 for road improvements in South Carolina for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

84 %

Eighty-four percent of goods shipped annually from sites in South Carolina travel by truck.
3,455,931 There are 3,455,931 licensed drivers in South Carolina.
 

46%

32%

Forty-six percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) were rated in poor condition in 2014, a significant increase since 2008 when 32 percent of the state’s major roads and highways were in poor condition.

Executive Summary

 

South Carolina’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 Palmetto State’s economy. South Carolina’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 part of its efforts to retain business, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, South Carolina 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 South Carolina’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.

South Carolina 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 South Carolinians. Meeting South Carolina’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in 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.

An inadequate transportation system costs South Carolina residents a total of $3 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that South Carolina 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 $3 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 South Carolina 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.

South Carolina 2

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

  • South Carolina’s population reached 4.7 million in 2012, a 35 percent increase since 1990. South Carolina had 3,455,931 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Carolina increased by 43 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 34.4 billion VMT in 1990 to 49 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in South Carolina is projected to increase by another 25 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, South Carolina’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 53 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Nearly half of major roads and highways in South Carolina have pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. The share of the state’s major roads in poor condition has increased significantly since 2008.

  • Forty-six percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) have pavements that were rated in 2014 as being in poor condition, while an additional 38 percent were in fair condition and 16 percent were in good condition.
  • In 2008, 32 percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) had pavements in poor condition, while an additional 49 percent were in fair condition and 19 percent were in good condition.
  • In the Charleston urban area, 37 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Twenty-three percent of Charleston’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 40 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Thirty-six percent of major urban roads in the Columbia urban area are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Twenty-two percent of Columbia’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 42 percent are rated in good condition.
  • In the Greenville urban area (which includes Spartanburg and Anderson) 48 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition.   Nineteen percent of Greenville’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 33 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 South Carolina 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.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Charleston motorist $294 annually in extra vehicle operating costs, while the average driver in the Columbia urban area loses $362 each year as a result of driving on deteriorated roads. The average Greenville area motorist spends an extra $405 annually due to driving on rough roads.

As of November 2014, 21 percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in South Carolina 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.

  • Eleven percent of South Carolina’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.
  • Ten percent of South Carolina’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.
  • In the Charleston urban area, 10 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 29 percent are functionally obsolete. Fourteen percent of bridges in the Columbia area are structurally deficient, while 10 percent are functionally obsolete. In the Greenville area (which includes Spartanburg and Anderson), eight percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 14 percent are functionally obsolete.

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

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Charleston urban area loses $647 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Charleston urban area loses 30 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • TTI estimates that the average Columbia-area driver loses $663 annually in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion. The average Columbia commuter loses 30 hours to traffic congestion every year.
  • According to TTI calculations, the average Greenville-area motorists loses $590 each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion. The average Greenville area driver loses 27 hours annually in traffic congestion.

South Carolina shares the highest overall traffic fatality rate in the nation with West Virginia. South Carolina’s traffic fatality rate on rural routes is the second highest in the nation behind Florida. Improving safety features on South Carolina’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 2008 and 2012 a total of 4,315 people were killed in traffic crashes in South Carolina, an average of 863 fatalities per year.
  • South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.76 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the highest rate in the nation (along with West Virginia) and is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on South Carolina’s rural roads was 2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, which is 61 percent higher than the national rural road average of 1.86 fatalities per 100 million miles.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in South Carolina in 2012, in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor, was approximately $1.1 billion.
  • The chart below details the average number of fatalities in each of South Carolina’s largest urban areas from 2010 to 2012 as well as the annual cost of traffic crashes to the average motorist in each area.

Soputh Carollina 3Roadway 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 South Carolina’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. South Carolina is heavily reliant on federal dollars to fund its transportation system.

  • Annually, $156 billion in goods are shipped from sites in South Carolina and another $168 billion in goods are shipped to sites in South Carolina, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-four percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in South Carolina 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.

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

Sources of information for this report include the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 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).

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