TRIP REPORTS — ARIZONA MOTORISTS LOSE $9.6 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADWAYS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME DESIRABLE SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,000 PER DRIVER.

LACK OF SUSTAINABLE, LONG-TERM FUNDING THREATENS ARIZONA’S ABILITY TO IMPROVE ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS, IMPROVE TRAFFIC SAFETY, AND RELIEVE CONGESTION ON A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM CARRYING GROWING TRAFFIC VOLUMES.

– Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Arizona motorists a total of $9.6 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. A lack of sustainable, long-term transportation funding threatens Arizona’s ability to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, and relieve traffic congestion and could be an impediment to economic growth, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit. 

The TRIP report, Arizona Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Arizona, nearly half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, the state’s traffic fatality rate is the fourth highest in the nation, vehicle travel in Arizona has increased by 34 percent since 2000, the sixth highest rate of growth nationally and 150 locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient. The report also finds that the rate of population growth in Arizona has been among the fastest in the nation since 2000, placing significant stress on the state’s transportation system and resulting in increasing traffic congestion and delays that choke commuting and commerce. 

Driving on deficient Arizona roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $9.6 billion annually – up to $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – 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 Phoenix-Mesa and Tucson urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 19 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Arizona are in poor condition and another 25 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers an additional $3 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 16 percent of Arizona’s major roads are in fair condition and the remaining 40 percent are in good condition. 

“In 2018, Arizona’s county engineers documented the alarming degradation of county roadways and the fact that existing revenue sources are insufficient to provide basic maintenance. The TRIP report underscores this problem and provides compelling evidence that the chronic underinvestment in maintenance and construction places a heavy cost on Arizonans,” said Craig Sullivan, executive director of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona. “This cost comes in the form of vehicle wear and tear, diminished roadway safety, and impediments to economic growth.  Given these findings, there is little doubt that increasing investments in improving our infrastructure will deliver a significant “return on investment” to Arizona taxpayers.”    

Traffic crashes in Arizona claimed the lives 4,635 people between 2014 and 2018. Over those five years, the number of annual traffic fatalities in the state increased by 31 percent, from 770 to 1,010. Arizona’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.53 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 was the fourth highest in the nation. The fatality rate on Arizona’s non-interstate rural roads in 2018 was the fifth highest in the U.S. and significantly higher than on all other roads in the state (2.36 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.39).  Traffic crashes imposed a total of $6.4 billion in economic costs in Arizona in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $2.1 billion in economic costs.  

“Our own research has shown billions of dollars of unfunded need for local transportation infrastructure. The great work done by TRIP makes the need real by focusing on quality of life impacts like congestion, safety and costs to the individual to maintain their vehicles,” said Rene Guillen, deputy director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. “This report makes it clear that as a high-growth state facing stagnant and declining transportation dollars our situation will only worsen without action. The information contained in this report serves as a great resource for lawmakers and stakeholders to use when discussing transportation funding options.”

Traffic congestion in Arizona is worsening, causing up to 62 annual hours of delay per driver and costing drivers as much as  $1,089 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, congestion costs Arizona drivers a total of $4.5 billion annually. 

Two percent of Arizona bridges (20 feet or longer) are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 37 percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 61 percent are in good condition. 

The report also finds that Arizona’s current sources of transportation revenues will not keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs. This is largely a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles, which, combined, are expected to reduce significantly the revenue generated by the state’s motor fuel tax revenues.  Average fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles in the U.S. has increased by 20 percent over the last decade and is expected to increase by 31 percent by 2030 and 51 percent by 2040.    

The efficiency and condition of Arizona’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $332 billion in goods are shipped to and from Arizona, 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 1.1 million full-time jobs in Arizona 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.

“The lack of adequate, sustainable transportation funding in Arizona will lead to increasing deterioration on the state’s roads and bridges and even longer congestion-related delays for commuters, businesses and visitors,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Deteriorated, congested roads rob drivers of time and money while reducing the state’s competitive advantage and threatening economic growth. Making investments that will improve the condition and efficiency of Arizona’s transportation system will ensure that the state remains an attractive place to live, visit and do business.”

ARIZONA KEY TRANSPORTATION FACTS 

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Arizona roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Arizona drivers a total of $9.6 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. 

ARIZONA ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 44 percent of major roads and highways in Arizona are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Arizona driver $576 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $3 billion statewide.  The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

ARIZONA VEHICLE TRAVEL AND CONGESTION INCREASING

In 2018, the state’s transportation system carried 66.1 billion annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT), a 34 percent increase since 2000, and the sixth highest rate of vehicle travel growth in the nation during that time.  Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Arizona drivers $4.5 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $1,089 and as many as 62 hours per year sitting in congestion. 

ARIZONA TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2014 to 2018, the number of annual traffic fatalities in Arizona increased by 31 percent from 770 to 1,010.  A total of 4,635 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arizona during that period. In 2018, Arizona had 1.53 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, the fourth highest in the U.S. and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on Arizona’s non-interstate rural roads is significantly higher than on all other roads in the state (2.36 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.39) – the fifth highest rate nationally.  

Traffic crashes imposed a total of $6.4 billion in economic costs in Arizona in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $2.1 billion in economic costs.  The chart below details the average 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. 

ARIZONA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Two percent of Arizona’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. Thirty-seven percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 61 percent are in good condition. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.

ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

The ability of revenue from Arizona’s motor fuel tax – a critical source of state transportation funds – to keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs is likely to erode as a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles. The average fuel efficiency of U.S. passenger vehicles increased from 20 miles per gallon in 2010 to 24.5 miles per gallon in 2020.  Average fuel efficiency is expected to increase another 31 percent by 2030, to 32 miles per gallon, and increase 51 percent by 2040, to 37 miles per gallon. The share of electric vehicles of total passenger vehicle sales in the U.S. is expected to increase to five percent by 2023 and to 60 percent by 2040, by which time they will represent approximately 30 percent of the passenger vehicle fleet.

The federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which expires on September 30, 2020, is a major source of funding for road, highway and bridge repairs in Arizona. Throughout the five years of the FAST-Act – fiscal years 2016 to 2020 – the program will provide $3.9 billion to Arizona for road repairs and improvements, an average of $775 million per year. From 2014 to 2018, the federal government provided $1.08 for road improvements in Arizona for every $1.00 state motorists paid in federal highway user fees, including the federal state motor fuel tax. 

From 2014 to 2018, federal funds provided for highway improvements were the equivalent of 71 percent of the amount of Arizona state capital outlays on road, highway and bridge projects, including construction, engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

From 2000 to 2018, Arizona’s population increased by 40 percent to 7.2 million, the third highest rate of growth among all states.  From 2000 to 2018, vehicle miles of travel on Arizona roadways increased by 34 percent, the sixth highest rate of growth nationally. 

The health and future growth of Arizona’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $332 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Arizona, mostly by truck. Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested surface transportation system. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Arizona, when adjusted for inflation, is expected to increase by 124 percent by 2045, and by 100 percent by 2045 for goods shipped by trucks.

report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Arizona supports approximately 65,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $2.5 billion annually. Approximately 1.1 million full-time jobs in Arizona in key industries like tourism, manufacturing, retail sales and agriculture are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

CONCLUSION

            As Arizona continues 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.

            Arizona 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 Arizona’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 Arizona 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.  

Note: This report was released by TRIP on March 10, 2020. For more information visit TRIPorg.net

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