TRIP Reports: MICHIGAN TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS UNDERWAY DUE TO INCREASED FUNDING; ADDITIONAL INVESTMENT STILL NEEDED

TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, RELIEVE CONGESTION AND REDUCE COSTS TO MOTORISTS OF DRIVING ON CONGESTED, DEFICIENT ROADS

While increased transportation funding provided by Michigan’s 2015 road funding package has allowed many projects to proceed throughout the state, additional investment is needed to complete numerous projects that would improve Michigan’s road and bridge conditions, relieve traffic congestion, and enhance traffic safety and efficiency. This isaccording to a new report from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington, DC.

Passage of the 2015 road funding package will increase state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.7 billion in 2023. The additional transportation funding has allowed the state to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded, though many projects across the state will not move forward without additional transportation funding. The TRIP report includes a list of projects across the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2023, and a list of projects that currently lack adequate funding to proceed.

Statewide, 24 percent of major roads are in poor condition and 20 percent are in mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists $4.6 billion annually in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“The TRIP data confirms what we’ve been saying for some time: Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling because of decades of under investment,” said Michigan Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer and Chief Engineer Tony Kratofil. “Ensuring safe and efficient travel is our top priority, and these findings demonstrate the challenges we face fulfilling our mission.”

Statewide, 11 percent (1,175 of 11,180) of bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Forty-three percent of Michigan’s bridges (4,815 of 11,180) were built in 1969 or earlier.  Bridges 50 years or older often require significant rehabilitation or replacement.

Michigan drivers are dealing with increasingly congested roadways, as population and vehicle-travel rates return to pre-recession levels. Drivers lose as many as 54 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion. Lost time and wasted fuel as a result of congestion cost Michigan drivers a total of $5.6 billion annually.

Improving safety features on Michigan’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes. A total of 4,905 people were killed in Michigan in traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 981 fatalities per year. Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost Michigan drivers $3.9 billion annually in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.

The efficiency and condition of Michigan’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $1 trillion in goods are shipped to, from and within sites in Michigan, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to 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.

“While the recent influx of funding has allowed Michigan to make strides in improving its transportation system, more work still needs to be done to provide the state’s residents, businesses and visitors with a smooth, safe and efficient transportation system,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Michigan will need to continue to make transportation investment a top priority.”

Modernizing Michigan’s Transportation System:
Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient andWell-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges

Executive Summary

A decade after suffering a significant economic downturn, Michigan is recovering, with its population and economy growing and vehicle travel increasing in response to the growth.  But the state’s rate of recovery could be slowed if Michigan is not able to provide a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The pace of economic growth, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Great Lakes State.

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

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

In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a transportation funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, registration fees and general funds. While this increased funding will allow the state and local governments to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of the state’s transportation system, the funding is not sufficient to fully address the significant deterioration of the system, or to allow the state to provide many of the transportation improvements needed to support economic growth.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require staying the course with Michigan’s current transportation program and increasing transportation investment.

THE COST TO MICHIGAN MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Michigan’s transportation system costs the state’s motorists a total of $14.1 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $4.6 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Based on research indicating that roadway design is likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of serious and fatal traffic crashes, TRIP estimates that the economic costs of serious and fatal traffic crashes in Michigan, in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor, is $3.9 billion per year. These costs come in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Michigan motorists a total of $5.6 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.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Additional transportation funding provided by the state legislature in 2015 will allow MDOT to complete numerous needed projects throughout the state. While the additional dollars have been helpful, many needed projects still remain unfunded.

 In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, such as gas taxes and registration fees, and allocations from the General Fund.

  • As a result of the funding increase, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to almost $3.7 billion in 2023. The chart below details the amount (in millions) of state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit.

  • The 2015 transportation legislation provided an additional $484 million in transportation revenue in 2017, increasing to $649 million annually in 2021. The legislation also provided income-tax revenues for transportation starting in 2019.

  • The income-tax revenue provided by the 2015 legislation is not dedicated in the state’s Constitution — as road-user fees are – and the appropriation could be changed.After 2020, income-tax revenues are expected to continue at $600 million per year, and the fuel-tax rate will rise with the Consumer Price Index after 2022.
  • Additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation will allow Michigan to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded. The list below details a sampling of projects in Michigan’s major urban areas and throughout the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2023, partly due to increased revenue.

  • Despite additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation, numerous needed transportation projects in Michigan remain unfunded. The list below details projects in Michigan’s major urban areas and throughout the state that currently lack adequate funding to proceed.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Population and economic growth results in increased demands on major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on a state’s transportation system. 

  • Michigan’s population is again growing and nearing pre-recession levels after beginning to fall in 2005 and dropping each year until 2011. The state’s population has increased each year from 2011 to 2018 and is currently at 10 million residents. Michigan has approximately 7.1 million licensed drivers.
  • After decreasing by 14 percent between 2000 and 2009, when adjusted for inflation, Michigan’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 21 percent from 2009 to 2017.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Michigan increased by seven percent from 2013 to 2017, to 101.8 billion vehicle miles traveled in 2017.

MICHIGAN ROAD CONDITIONS

The share of Michigan’s major roads with pavements in poor condition has increased due to a lack of adequate state and local funding, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) found in its Michigan’s 2017 Roads and Bridges Annual Report that 40 percent of federal-aid eligible roads and highways in Michigan have pavements in poor condition, an increase from 2006 when 25 percent were rated in poor condition.
  • The TAMC report found that under current funding the share of federal-aid eligible roads in the state in poor condition will decrease slightly by 2027 to 37 percent.
  • Based on 2017 pavement condition data from the Federal Highway Administration, the chart below details pavement conditions on major roads inthe state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN

One-in-nine locally and state-maintained bridges in Michigan show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Statewide, eleven percent of Michigan’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • The TAMC report found that under current funding the share of Michigan bridges rated in poor condition (which is a rating similar to structurally deficient) will increase from 10 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2027.
  • Forty-three percent of Michigan’s bridges (4,815 out of 11,180) were built in 1969 or earlier. Bridges 50 years or older often require significant rehabilitation or replacement.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $607 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in Michigan.
  • The chart below details the number and share of structurally deficient bridges inthe state’s largest urban areas and statewide:

MICHIGAN TRAFFIC CONGESTION

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

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion annually for the average driver in Michigan’s largest urban areas. It also includes the cost of congestion per motorist, in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MICHIGAN

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

  • A total of 4,905 people were killed in Michigan traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 981 fatalities per year.
  • Michigan’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.01 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2017 was below the national average of 1.16.
  • The fatality rate on Michigan’s non-interstate rural roads in 2017 was nearly double that on all other roads in the state (1.55 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.83).
  • The following chart indicates the average number of people killed annually in vehicle crashes in Michigan’s major urban areas from 2014 to 2016.

  • 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.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MICHIGAN

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

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process.  But, the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MICHIGAN

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

  • Annually, $1 trillion in goods are shipped to, from and within sites in Michigan, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Michigan are carried by trucks and another 15 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Michigan supports 94,107 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $4.1 billion annually.
  • Approximately 1.9 million full-time jobs in Michigan in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2017 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.  Labor costs and the availability of skilled labor, which are both impacted by a site’s level of accessibility, were rated second and third, respectively.

Conclusion

As Michigan works to continue its economic recovery and build a thriving, growing and dynamic state, it will be critical that the state is able to address its most significant transportation issues by providing a well-maintained 21st century network of roads, highways, bridges and transit that can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society.

Michigan will need to modernize its surface transportation system by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility for residents, visitors and businesses.  Making needed improvements to the state’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems could provide a significant boost to the economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long-term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

While the funding increase provided in 2015 will be helpful, Michigan  still faces significant challenges in improving the condition of its  roads and bridges and numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of Michigan’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will not be able to proceed without a substantial boost in state or local transportation funding.  If Michigan is unable to complete needed transportation projects it will hamper the state’s ability to improve the condition and efficiency of its transportation system or enhance economic development opportunities and quality of life.

 

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

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