TRIP Report: NEW MEXICO MOTORISTS LOSE $2.6 BILLION ANNUALLY ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES

AS MUCH AS $2,100 PER DRIVER. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION AND HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost New Mexico motorists a total of $2.6 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,114 per driver – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in New Mexico, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit . 

The TRIP report, New Mexico Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout New Mexico, more than half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 1,853 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018. The report also identifies the 20 most congested corridors in the state and finds that New Mexico’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. 

Driving on New Mexico roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $2.6 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 roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

“It is critical that New Mexico continues to invest in a modern and efficient roadway system throughout our state.  The traveling public, visitors to our state, and our local business communities, which includes ranchers and farmers in our rural areas, deserve a reliable transportation network to support their livelihoods,” said State Senator Clemente Sanchez, Senate Corporations & Transportation Committee Chairman (D-Cibola, Socorro, McKinley and Valencia-30).  “We also need to ensure that the school buses our children ride on to and from school every day are operating on safe and well-maintained roads and bridges.”  

The TRIP report finds that 30 percent of New Mexico’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and another 24 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers 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. Twelve percent of New Mexico’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 34 percent are rated in good condition.  

NMDOT projects an annual maintenance shortfall of approximately $103 million and has identified nearly $2.8 billion in needed but unfunded transportation projects throughout the state. The TRIP report includes a list of the needed projects. “Without a substantial investment of state and local transportation funding, we will be unable to complete much needed road and bridge infrastructure projects intended to improve the condition and efficiency of our statewide transportation system,” said State Representative Rodolpho S. Martinez (D-Dona Ana, Grant & Sierra-39).   

Six percent of New Mexico’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In New Mexico, 48 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier.

Traffic congestion throughout the state is worsening, causing up to 44 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing as much as $936 annually per driver in lost time and wasted fuel. The TRIP report identifies New Mexico’s 20 most congested corridor segments during typical morning and evening peak travel periods. The top ten are listed below.

“For New Mexico to compete economically with our neighboring states and provide safe and reliable mobility for our residents, visitors and commerce, we must commit to making necessary improvements to our statewide network of roads, highways and bridges,” said State Representative Patricio Ruiloba, House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee Chairman (D-Bernalillo-12).

Traffic crashes in New Mexico claimed the lives 1,853 people between 2014 and 2018. New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.43 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 is the tenth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.  Traffic crashes imposed a total of $2.3 billion in economic costs in New Mexico in 2017 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $767 million in economic costs.  

“As a result of the revenue-generating activities taking place in the oil and gas rich areas of our state, New Mexico has an opportunity to devote additional state resources to address the critical needs on our roads and bridges,” said State Representative Cathrynn N. Brown (R-Eddy-55).  “Investing today in the state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure will result in long-term benefits for New Mexico in terms of job creation, statewide economic stimulation, and reliable mobility for the traveling public.” 

The efficiency and condition of New Mexico’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $123.5 billion in goods are shipped to and from New Mexico, 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. Approximately 350,000 full-time jobs in New Mexico in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the federal, state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, New Mexico’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”

NEW MEXICO KEY TRANSPORTATION FACTS 

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on New Mexico roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs New Mexico drivers a total of $2.6 billion each year. TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes. The chart below details the cost of deficient roads statewide and for the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas. 

NEW MEXICO ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 54 percent of major roads and highways in New Mexico are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average New Mexico driver $770 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $1.1 billion statewide.  The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

NEW MEXICO BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Six percent of New Mexico’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition. Bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Fifty-six percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 38 percent are in good condition. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In New Mexico, 48 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.

NEW MEXICO ROADS ARE INCREASINGLY CONGESTED

Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost New Mexico drivers $725 million each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $936 and as many as an additional 44 hours per year sitting in traffic as a result of congestion. The TRIP report identifies New Mexico’s 20 most congested corridor segments during typical morning and evening peak travel periods. The top ten are below.

NEW MEXICO TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2014 to 2018, 1,853 people were killed in traffic crashes in New Mexico. In 2018, New Mexico had 1.43 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, the tenth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.  

Traffic crashes imposed a total of $2.3 billion in economic costs in New Mexico in 2017 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $767 million in economic costs.  The chart below details the number of people killed in traffic crashes in the state’s largest urban areas between 2014 and 2018, and the cost of traffic crashes per driver. 

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED PROJECTS

The New Mexico Department of Transportation projects an annual maintenance shortfall of approximately $103 million. NMDOT has also identified nearly $2.8 billion in needed but unfunded transportation projects throughout the state, as detailed in the chart below.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

With an economy based largely on natural resource extraction, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, the health and future growth of New Mexico’s economy is riding on the quality and efficiency of its transportation system. These industries – particularly the state’s burgeoning energy extraction sector – are heavily reliant on the state’s transportation system to move products and people and rely on well-maintained, safe and efficient roads and bridges. Each year, $123.5 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New Mexico. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in New Mexico, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is expected to increase 110 percent by 2045 and 126 percent for goods shipped by trucks, placing an increased burden on the state’s already deteriorated and congested network of roads and bridges. 

The amount of freight transported in New Mexico and the rest of the U.S. is expected to increase significantly as a result of further economic growth, changing business and retail models, increasing international trade, and rapidly changing consumer expectations that place an emphasis on faster deliveries, often of smaller packages or payloads.  

According to a report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in New Mexico support approximately 26,300 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $802 million annually. Approximately 350,000 full-time jobs in New Mexico in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

CONCLUSION

            As New Mexico works to enhance its thriving, growing and dynamic state, it will be critical that it is able to address the most significant transportation issues by providing a 21st century network of roads, highways, bridges and transit that can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society.

            New Mexico 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 would 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. 

Numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of New Mexico’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will not be able to proceed without a substantial boost in local, state or federal transportation funding.  If New Mexico 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.  

Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues.  TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

For the full report visit: TRIPNET.ORG

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