TRIP Reports: Oklahoma Motorists Lose $5 Billion Annually On Roads That Are Rough, Congested & Lack Some Safety Features

Oklahoma Motorists Lose $5 Billion Annually On Roads That Are Rough, Congested & Lack Some Safety Features -As Much As $ 2,200 Per Driver. Funding Cuts And Diversions Could Slow Pace Of Improvement; Proposed Further Cuts Have Resulted In Needed Projects Being Halted

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Oklahoma motorists a total of $5 billion statewide annually – $2,175 per driver in the Oklahoma City urban area – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Adequate investment in transportation improvements at the local and state levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Oklahoma, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) funding has been significantly reduced since 2010, due to funding cuts and diversions, which, combined with proposals to further cut transportation funding, have led ODOT to suspend the start of a dozen projects and consider the suspension of 80 additional projects currently under construction.

The TRIP report, Oklahoma Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that, throughout Oklahoma, nearly three-fourths of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and, despite significant improvement in the condition of state-maintained bridges, 15 percent of Oklahoma’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient – the eighth highest share in the nation. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, traffic fatalities in Oklahoma increased six percent from 2015 to 2016.

Driving on Oklahoma roads costs drivers $5 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 costs of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway safety features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

Statewide, 45 percent of Oklahoma’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 29 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 14 percent are rated in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Oklahoma drivers $1.9 billion in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Transportation infrastructure lays the foundation for economic development,” said John G. Johnson, executive director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). “It is critical that our nation invest in the transportation infrastructure that is the lifeblood of businesses, great and small. At ACOG, we are privileged to serve as the stewards of local, state and federal dollars that improve the transportation systems that link Central Oklahomans to each other and the world, and the world to us. We believe improvements to infrastructure increase the quality of our lives and are proud to advocate for these improvements.”

Fifteen percent of all Oklahoma’s bridges, both those maintained by cities and counties and state bridges maintained by ODOT, are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. While this is the eighth highest share in the nation, it marks a significant improvement since 2004, when the state ranked first in the share of structurally deficient bridges with 31 percent.

Traffic congestion in the state’s urban areas is worsening, causing as many as 49 annual hours of delay for some motorists and costing drivers as much as $1,110 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

Traffic crashes in Oklahoma claimed the lives of 3,380 people between 2012 and 2016, an average of 676 fatalities per year. The number of fatalities increased six percent from 2015 to 2016, from 643 to 682. Oklahoma’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13.

Since 2010, the state legislature has removed $682 million from the state’s road, highway and bridge program. ODOT issued $335 million in bonds to replace some of the lost funds, but repayment of the state’s current $485 million in outstanding transportation bond debt costs $57 million annually, reducing available funds for needed improvements. Legislation currently being considered by the state legislature would cut an additional $1.5 billion in transportation funding from 2018 to 2025, although a proposed revenue increase may significantly offset the potential cuts.

“The condition of Oklahoma’s transportation system will worsen in the future without reliable funding, leading to even higher costs for drivers,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “In order to promote economic growth, foster quality of life and get drivers safety and efficiently to their destination, Oklahoma will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”

OKLAHOMA TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Oklahoma

 

$5 billion

Driving on deficient roads costs Oklahoma motorists a total of $5 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
Oklahoma City – $2,175

 

Tulsa – $2,092

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Drivers in the state’s largest urban areas incur annual costs as a result of driving on deficient roads as follows: Oklahoma City – $2,175, Tulsa- $2,092.
3,380

676

6% Increase

A total of 3,380 people were killed in Oklahoma traffic crashes from 2012 to 2016, an average of 676 fatalities annually. The number of traffic fatalities in Oklahoma increased by six percent in 2016 from 2015, increasing from 643 fatalities to 682.
79 % Between 2004 and 2016, the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges in Oklahoma decreased by 79 percent.
2.5X The fatality rate on Oklahoma’s rural roads is nearly two and a half times greater than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state (2.21 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 0.91).
45%

40%

42%

Forty-five percent of Oklahoma’s major urban roads are in poor condition. Forty and 42 percent of major roads and highways in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa urban areas are in poor condition, respectively.
 

$682 Million

$335 Million

$485 Million

$57 Million

Since 2010, the state legislature has cut or diverted $682 million for the state’s road, highway and bridge program, although the state legislature has allowed the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to issue $335 million in bonds to offset some of the cuts in funding for road, highway and bridge improvements to $347 million. Retiring the state’s $485 million in transportation bond debt costs $57 million annually.
 

 

$1.5 Billion

$208 Million

Senate Bill 837, which is currently under consideration by the state legislature, would decrease road, highway and bridge funding in Oklahoma by $1.5 billion from fiscal year (FY) 2018 to FY 2025. A state legislature proposal to increase the state’s motor fuel tax would reduce the overall amount removed from the state’s road, highway and bridge program to $208 million between FY 2018 and FY 2025.
 

>12

80

Due to low cash flow as a result of previous funding cuts and the possibility of additional cuts during the current legislative session, ODOT has suspended the start of more than12 projects and are preparing a plan to suspend 80 projects currently under construction.
Oklahoma City –

49 Hours

Tulsa – 44 hours

Mounting congestion robs drivers of time and fuel. Annual time wasted in congestion for drivers in the state’s largest urban areas is as follows: Oklahoma City – 49 hours, Tulsa – 44 hours.

 

Executive Summary

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Oklahoma’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Oklahoma, 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 Sooner State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on natural resource extraction, manufacturing and production, agriculture, and tourism, the quality of Oklahoma’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in Oklahoma as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.

COST TO OKLAHOMA MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

An inadequate transportation system costs Oklahoma motorists a total of $5 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Oklahoma motorists a total of $1.9 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost Oklahoma motorists a total of $1 billion each year in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Oklahoma motorists a total of $2.1 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

STATE TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN OKLAHOMA

Significant levels of state transportation funding have been reduced since 2010. Some of the state’s transportation funding cuts have been offset by the issuance of transportation bonds, but the repayment of the bonds over the next several years will reduce funds available for road, highway and bridge improvements. Legislation currently being considered by the state legislature would significantly reduce immediate and future transportation investment in the state, although a proposed revenue increase may offset the potential cuts.

POPULATION, TRAVEL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN OKLAHOMA

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

  • Oklahoma’s population reached approximately 3.9 million residents in 2016, a 14 percent increase since 2000. Oklahoma had approximately 2.6 million licensed drivers in 2015.
  • Annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Oklahoma increased by 13 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 43.4 billion VMT in 2000 to 48.8 billion VMT in 2016.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Oklahoma’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 45 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Oklahoma is projected to increase by another 15 percent.

OKLAHOMA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in nearly three-fourths of major urban roads and highways in Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Pavement data for Interstate highways and other principal arterials is collected for all system mileage, whereas pavement data for minor arterial and all collector roads and highways is based on sampling portions of roadways as prescribed by FHWA to insure that the data collected is adequate to provide an accurate assessment of pavement conditions on these roads and highways.
  • Forty-five percent of Oklahoma’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 29 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 14 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Overall, 26 percent of Oklahoma’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 27 percent are in mediocre condition. Eighteen percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 30 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-two percent of Oklahoma’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 26 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Nineteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 33 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The chart below details the share of pavement in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in the state’s largest urban areas.

  • Roads rated in mediocre to poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, these roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Long-term repair costs increase significantly when road and bridge maintenance is deferred, as road and bridge deterioration accelerates later in the service life of a transportation facility and requires more costly repairs. A report on maintaining pavements found that every $1 of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges costs an additional $4 to $5 in needed future repairs.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Oklahoma motorists a total of $1.9 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

OKLAHOMA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has made significant progress in reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state between 2004 and 2016.

  • Between 2004 and 2016, the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges in Oklahoma decreased by 79 percent from 1,168 to 251. All remaining structurally deficient bridges are included in ODOT’s Eight-year Construction Work Plan to be under construction by the end of the decade.
  • Fifteen percent of Oklahoma’s locally and state-maintained bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, the eighth highest level among states. In 2004, 31 percent of Oklahoma’s locally and state-maintained bridges were structurally deficient, the highest share nationally.
  • 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 chart below details the share of state-maintained, locally maintained and all bridges in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide which are structurally deficient.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN OKLAHOMA

Improving safety features on Oklahoma’s 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. Traffic fatalities in Oklahoma increased in 2016.

  • A total of 3,380 people were killed in Oklahoma traffic crashes from 2012 to 2016, an average of 676 fatalities per year.
  • The number of traffic fatalities in Oklahoma increased by six percent in 2016 from 2015, increasing from 643 fatalities to 682.
  • Oklahoma’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2015 was significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on Oklahoma’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly two and a half times greater than on all other roads in the state (2.21 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.91)
  • The chart below details the average number of people killed in traffic crashes from 2013 to 2015 in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the cost per motorist of traffic crashes.

  • Traffic crashes in Oklahoma imposed a total of $3 billion in economic costs in 2015. TRIP estimates that traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1 billion in economic costs in 2015.
  • According to a 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the economic costs of traffic crashes includes work and household productivity losses, property damage, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs, congestion costs and emergency services.
  • 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.

OKLAHOMA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

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

  • Based on Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) estimates, the value of lost time and wasted fuel in Oklahoma is approximately $2.1 billion per year.
  • 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 AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN OKLAHOMA

The efficiency of Oklahoma’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, $348 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Oklahoma, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-three percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Oklahoma are carried by trucks and another eight 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 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.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN OKLAHOMA

The current 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.

  • 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

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), 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) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

 

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