World’s longest bridge linking HK to Macau, Zhuhai set to open

Source Asia Times: ASIA UNHEDGED | World’s longest bridge linking HK to Macau, Zhuhai set to open

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to cross the bridge in his limousine on October 23, with high security set up at both ends of the journey

OCTOBER 18, 2018 5:34 PM (UTC+8)

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other central government dignitaries are said to be descending upon Guangdong province over the coming weekend. There they will inspect cities, enterprises, and universities in the southern economic powerhouse, and possibly preside over the opening of the world’s longest bridge.

Citing multiple sources, newspapers in Hong Kong reported on Wednesday that the highlight of Xi’s packed schedule could be officiating at the inauguration ceremony of the 55-kilometer (34.18 miles) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on October 23.

The record-breaking transport link lauded as a new engineering wonder and one of the largest man-made structures on Earth includes a 6.7-km (4.16 miles) tunnel under the Pearl River estuary that is connected via two artificial islands to the main bridge.

Two more reclaimed islands house immigration and customs facilities at either end of the new link.

Travel time from Hong Kong to its sister city of Macau on the western bank of the river as well as the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai will be cut from a one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride to a 30-minute hop on a bus.

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The bridge linking Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai is set to open to traffic next week. Photos: Frank Chen/Asia Times

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An aerial photo of where the bridge runs beneath the sea into a 6.7-km tunnel. Photo: Frank Chen/Asia Times

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Photo: Xinhua

The bridge sweeps towards an artificial island to connect to an underwater tunnel.  Photo: Xinhua

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One section of the main bridge where two 163-meter (534.77 feet) pylons lift the bridge high enough for the passage of giant container ships. Photo: Xinhua

Other reports say public and national security operations in cities in Guangdong, especially in Zhuhai where the bridge authority is based, have been on high alert this month.

Divers and patrol boats are scouring the seabed for explosives, technicians are checking the interior and exterior of the bridge, and snipers and jamming vehicles will be deployed to ensure absolute safety for VIPs on Tuesday’s inauguration day. The Hong Kong Police Force is also said to be on standby.

It is said that Deputy Premier Han Zheng, a standing member of the Communist Party’s Politburo in charge of the daily running of Hong Kong and Macau, will also accompany Xi, when the top leader is expected to ride the bridge in his bullet-proof limousine.

Reports indicate that Xi is unlikely to drop by Hong Kong, who paid a high-profile visit to the city in July 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of the British colony’s return to Chinese rule.

Chief Executives of Hong Kong and Macau, Carrie Lam and Fernando Chui, will also attend the ceremony.

A file photo shows Xi Jinping inspecting the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in July 2017. Photo: HK govt

A file photo shows Xi Jinping inspecting the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in July 2017. Photo: HK govt

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The dotted line in the middle represents the 6.7-kilometer (4.16 miles) tunnel section of the bridge.

On Wednesday Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong sent invitations to local and international media outlets to cover the bridge’s opening, though no details about Xi’s itinerary or the list of officiating officials were given.

The way the information about the bridge’s belated inauguration was disseminated – after major works were finished at the end of 2017 and the bridge had lain vacant for almost a year – suggests that the end-of-October launch date could be a last-minute decision from Beijing after Xi had agreed to shuffle other commitments in order to be available for the opening.

Meanwhile, the chief designer of the bridge, Meng Fanchao, said during a recent media briefing that the project would be strong enough to withstand monster gales with extreme speed of up to 360km/h and was built to be in use for more than a century.

He dismissed concerns that the maintenance costs for the bridge would be astronomical, saying that the bridge was designed to last for 120 years.

Hong Kong alone has splurged HK$120 billion (US$15.3 billion) on the project, and Meng said he remained confident that the costs could be recouped, despite concerns about lukewarm patronage due to cumbersome immigration procedures and the lack of a feeder line to the technology boomtown of Shenzhen.

Meng also added that while different governments on the mainland and in Hong Kong and Macau had had disputes over technical and safety standards, they were eventually able to settle for the highest sets of standards in the end. Construction of the bridge started in 2009.

Travelers might be advised not to expect a swift, hassle-free ride across the bridge in the initial days of its operation.

Coach operators in Hong Kong are already fuming over the city government’s inability to confirm exactly when their shuttle buses can start plying the bridge. Their anger is based on their need for an exact start time so as to make manpower and logistics arrangements and to apply for cross-border permits.

A one-way bus ride to Macau may cost HK$120 (US$15.30) per person, and private car drivers will need to pay a toll of HK$175 (US$ 22.44)  for each trip, according to a tentative pricing regime gazetted by Hong Kong and Guangdong authorities.

http://www.atimes.com/article/worlds-longest-bridge-linking-hk-to-macau-zhuhai-set-to-open/

Michelin Expands Tweel Airless Radial Line

Michelin North America, Inc., is pumping up its Tweel airless radial line. At the Green Industry Expo this week in Louisville, Ky., Michelin will introduce new products to its TURF and UTV lines. Three of these additions will feature 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern configurations.

New TURF products

  • New 24-inch TURF size for zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers with 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern hubs
  • New 26-inch TURF size for zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers with 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern hubs
  • New 13-inch ZTR caster design with improved performance and stability

“Michelin is listening and responding to customer requests. With the 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern hub configuration comprising over half of the total commercial ZTR market, Michelin responded with these new offers in our award-winning airless tire product line,” said Olivier Brauen, vice president of Michelin Tweel Technologies.

Gravely, Ferris, Kubota and Grasshopper operators of ZTR mowers using 24-inch, 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern rear tire/wheels will be able to buy the MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF no-compromise airless solution for their commercial mowers in limited quantities by the end of 2018. Available as an aftermarket product through Sunbelt Outdoor Products and ANI Products, the 24-inch, 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern black hub version will fit:

  • Gravely PRO-TURN 100, 200 and 400 Series
  • Ferris IS2600Z series and F210Z models
  • Kubota Z725 and Z726 models
  • Grasshopper M1 MidMount 200, 300 & 400 Series and FrontMount 900 Series

The 26-inch, 5-4.5inch bolt-pattern MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF is now available as a no-compromise airless rear solution for Kubota, eXmark, Ferris and Bad Boy operators of commercial ZTR mowers. Available immediately as an aftermarket product for online purchase through Michelin as well as through Sunbelt Outdoor Products and ANI Products, the 26-inch, 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern black hub version will fit:

  • Kubota ZD1211, ZD1511 and ZG326 models
  • eXmark Lazer Z Diesel
  • Ferris F320Z and IS3200Z models
  • Bad Boy 1500 Diesel

The redesigned MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF Caster makes its debut after numerous customer requests. Available immediately in the 13×6.5N6 size, the new configuration is designed to provide enhanced performance and more stability with its flat, smooth design, fitting a larger range of mowers than the current ribbed version.

New UTV products

Two utility off-highway applications will make their debut:

  • New 26-inch UTV 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern hub for John Deere Gator UTVs and Argo XTVs
  • New 26-inch UTV 4-110 mm bolt-pattern for several Honda, Kubota, Yamaha, and Argo ATVs and UTVs.

The new MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® UTV 26x9N14 airless radial tire with 5-4.5 inch and 4-110 mm bolt-patterns designed for use on ATVs and UTVs will be sold as fitments for the John Deere, Honda, Kubota, Yamaha, and Argo replacement market. With a 50-mph speed rating at a maximum gross vehicle weight of 2,860 pounds, the 26-inch UTV will be available in limited quantities by the end of 2018 for a variety of machines, including:

  • John Deere Gator XUVs
  • Honda Pioneer and ATVs
  • Kubota RTV 900
  • Yamaha Viking
  • Argo XTVs and ATVs

“Our production facility is primed for increasing our portfolio and has been manufacturing these new products for customers to boost their productivity and bottom line,” Brauen said.

For more information on MICHELIN X TWEEL, visit www.michelintweel.com.

NEW TRIP REPORT IDENTIFIES U.S. URBAN AREAS WITH ROUGHEST ROADS AND HIGHEST COSTS TO DRIVERS – AS MUCH AS $1,049 ANNUALLY

TRIP:  NEW REPORT IDENTIFIES U.S. URBAN AREAS WITH ROUGHEST ROADS AND HIGHEST COSTS TO DRIVERS – AS MUCH AS $1,049 ANNUALLY. AS TRAVEL GROWTH INCREASES, ROAD CONDITIONS EXPECTED TO DECLINE FURTHER WITHOUT ADDITIONAL FUNDING AT LOCAL, STATE & FEDERAL LEVELS.

 Driving on deteriorated urban roads costs motorists as much as $1,049 annually, according to a new report that evaluates pavement conditions in the nation’s large (500,000+ population) and mid-sized (200,000-500,000 population) urban areas and calculates the additional costs passed on to motorists as a result of driving on rough roads. Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by increasing needed repairs, maintenance, fuel consumption, and tire wear, and accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation.

These findings were released today by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. The report, “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to make our Roads Smoother,” examines urban pavement conditions, transportation funding, travel trends, and economic development. Pavement condition and vehicle operating costs for urban areas with populations of 200,000 or greater can be found in the report and appendices. The charts below detail the top 20 large and mid-sized urban areas with the highest share of pavements on major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in poor condition, and the highest vehicle operating costs (VOC).

In 2016 one-third (33 percent) of the nation’s major urban roads – Interstates, freeways and other arterial routes – had pavements that were in substandard condition and provided an unacceptably rough ride to motorists, costing the average driver $599 annually. The nationwide annual cost to motorists of driving on deteriorated roads totals $130 billion.

“Drivers are paying a hefty price for our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Those traveling daily through urban cities bear the weight of the problem – with many wasting thousands of dollars each year on rising transportation costs due to potholes and wasted fuel. AAA urges Congress and the current administration to prioritize transportation infrastructure improvements to ensure safe, efficient and reliable mobility across the United States.”

Road conditions could deteriorate further as the rate of vehicle travel continues to increase and local and state governments find themselves unable to adequately fund road repairs.

With vehicle travel growth rates returning to pre-recession levels and large truck travel anticipated to grow significantly, mounting wear and tear on the nation’s urban roads and highways is expected to increase the cost of needed highway repairs.  Vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. increased by 16 percent from 2000 to 2016 and increased by six percent in just the three years from 2013 to 2016. Travel by large commercial trucks in the U.S. increased by 29 percent from 2000 to 2016 and is anticipated to increase by approximately 56 percent from 2018 to 2045, putting even greater stress on the nation’s roadways.

“The needs of our nation’s infrastructure continue to grow. This report provides clear evidence that deteriorating roads are a strain on motorists and bad for the economy,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Transportation and Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “It is past time for federal lawmakers to come together to enact a long-term infrastructure modernization plan.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) semi-annual report on the condition, use and funding needs of the nation’s surface transportation program found that the current backlog in needed road and highway rehabilitation is $419.5 billion and that the nation’s current $41 billion annual investment in maintaining the condition of roads and highways should be increased by 33 percent to $61 billion annually to improve the condition of America’s roads and highways.

“Motorists are facing a rough ride in many urban areas because of a lack of adequate funding for road repairs,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Some states and regional governments have begun to address their needs through recent funding increases, but it will also take action by the federal government. Congress can help by fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a sustainable source of user-fee based revenue.”

Bumpy Road Ahead:

AMERICA’S ROUGHEST RIDES AND STRATEGIES TO

MAKE OUR ROADS SMOOTHER

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: KEY FACTS ABOUT OUR NATION’S URBAN ROADS

Keeping the wheel steady on America’s roads and highways have become increasingly challenging as drivers encounter potholes and pavement deterioration. One-third of the nation’s major urban roadways – highways and major streets that are the main routes for commuters and commerce – are in poor condition.  These critical links in the nation’s transportation system carry 70 percent of the approximately 3.2 trillion miles driven annually in America. Road conditions could deteriorate even further as the rate of vehicle travel continues to increase and local and state governments find they are unable to adequately fund road repairs.

In this report, TRIP examines the condition of the nation’s major roads, including pavement condition data for America’s most populous urban areas, recent trends in travel, the latest developments in repairing roads and building them to last longer, and the funding levels needed to adequately address America’s deteriorated roadways.

For the purposes of this report, an urban area includes the major city in a region and its neighboring or surrounding suburban areas.  Pavement condition data are the latest available and are derived from the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) 2016 annual survey of state transportation officials on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways, based on a uniform pavement rating index.  The pavement rating index measures the level of smoothness of pavement surfaces, supplying information on the ride quality provided by road and highway surfaces.  Following are the major findings of the TRIP report.

THE NATION’S URBAN ROADS ARE INCREASINGLY DETERIORATED

One-third (33 percent) of the nation’s major urban roads are rated in poor condition, providing drivers with a rough ride. The charts below detail the top 20 U.S. urban areas with the highest share of major roads in poor condition. The report’s Appendix includes pavement condition data for all U.S. urban areas with a population of 200,000 or more.

 ROUGH URBAN ROADS COME WITH HIGH COSTS TO DRIVERS

The average motorist in the U.S. is losing $599 annually – a total of $130 billion nationally – in additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair. These costs include additional repair costs, accelerated vehicle deterioration and depreciation, increased maintenance costs, and additional fuel consumption. The chart below details the top 20 U.S. urban areas (500,000+ population and 200,000-500,000 population) where motorists pay the highest annual vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on rough roads. The report’s appendix includes VOC data for all urban areas with a population of 200,000 or more.

 

TRAVEL AND POPULATION GROWTH ARE FURTHER STRAINING TRANSPORTATION NETWORK

Vehicle travel in the U.S. increased 16 percent from 2000 to 2016, while the nation’s population grew 15 percent from 2000 to 2017. Travel by large commercial trucks increased 29 percent from 2000 to 2016. The additional travel increases the amount of road, highway and bridge investment needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s transportation needs.

 

A SIGNIFICANT BOOST IN FUNDING IS NEEDED TO IMPROVE ROADWAY CONDITIONS

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) semi-annual report on the condition, use and funding needs of the nation’s surface transportation program found that the current backlog in needed road and highway rehabilitation is $419.5 billion and that the nation’s current $41 billion annual investment in maintaining the condition of roads and highways should be increased by 33 percent to $61 billion annually to improve the condition of America’s roads and highways.

TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT STRENGTHENS THE ECONOMY

The design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. play a critical role in the nation’s economy, supporting the equivalent of four million full-time jobs across all sectors of the nation’s economy.  Approximately 63 million full-time jobs in the U.S. in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture, and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of America’s transportation infrastructure network.

For the full report visit TRIP

DEWALT announces the new FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor (DCV585)

DEWALT  FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* DUST EXTRACTOR

DEWALT announces the new FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor (DCV585), adding to its system of more than 120 Table 1 Compliant** Solutions of drilling, cutting, and grinding tools, dust extractors, accessories, and shrouds intended to limit workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor runs off of DEWALT FLEXVOLT Batteries and is an efficient and portable way to be OSHA Table 1 compliant** on the job site. For concrete drilling and grinding/cutting up to 5-inch wheels, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor achieves 125 CFM. Featuring Wireless Tool Control that gives the user the option to activate the extractor from a few feet away using the included remote. Additionally, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor offers an automatic filter cleaning mechanism.

The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor is part of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT™ line of tools designed to provide a high level of one or more of the following: control, dust containment or low vibration, without sacrificing performance. For a list of the DEWALT PERFORM & PROTECT™ drilling and grinding solutions that adhere to the new OSHA ruling on protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust, go to DEWALT.com.

Available where DEWALT products are sold in November 2018, the 60V MAX* Dust Extractor will come kitted with two HEPA Filters and two Batteries for $549 MSRP (DCV585T2). It will also come bare for $349 MSRP (DCV585B). The 60V MAX* Dust Extractor will come standard with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.

With respect to 60V MAX* – Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 60 volts. Nominal voltage is 54.

**Compliant to the Exposure Control Methods described in Table 1 of 29 CFR 1926.1153 when outlined components are operated and maintained in accordance to manufacturer’s instructions, assuming that airflow is measured in accordance with the motor/fan system test. OSHA is reviewing the exact requirements for dust extraction in these applications.

FEATURES

  • 125 CFM provides OSHA Table 1 Compliant Solutions for up to 5″ Tuckpointing and Surfacing Applications when paired with an appropriate dust shroud
  • Automatic Filter Cleaning, with Dual Filters
  • HEPA Filter Included with Unit
  • Wireless Tool Control™ Allows for wireless ON/OFF capability when paired with the included Remote or a Wireless Tool Control™ Enabled Tool
  • T-Stak Compatibility Allows Unit to be Stacked and Combined with other DEWALT® T-Stak Storage Systems
  • 8 Foot Long Anti Static Hose with DEWALT® AIRLOCK™ system.
  • Built-in hose wrap offers convenient hose storage when not in use
  • Meets the EPA Lead Related Renovations, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule for HEPA vacuums when used with the included HEPA filter.
  • Can be used with Wet or Dry applications

SPECIFICATIONS

  • HOSE LENGTH          8.0 F
  • MAX CFM                          125.0 CFM
  • SYSTEM                        60V MAX*
  • TANK SIZE                   2.0 GAL
  • TOOL HEIGHT           13.0 IN
  • TOOL LENGTH           21.5 IN
  • TOOL WEIGHT         17.6 LBS

INCLUDES

  • DCV585 60V MAX Dust Extractor
  • Wireless Tool Control™ Remote
  • (1) Fleece Bag
  • (2) HEPA Filters

For more information visit FLEXVOLT™ 60V MAX* Dust Extractor

 

INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED

INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED, BUT STATE STILL FACES $2.5 BILLION SHORTFALL IN PROJECTS NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITION OF AGING ROADS & BRIDGES, INCREASE SAFETY AND PROMOTE ECONOMIC GROWTH AS ENERGY-RELATED FUNDS DECREASE

 While increased transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of the state’s energy boom, has allowed numerous projects to proceed, additional investment is still needed to improve road and bridge conditions, enhance safety and accommodate projected growth,according to a new report from TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, DC.

The TRIP report, Modernizing North Dakota’s Transportation System: Progress & Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways & Bridges,” finds that with the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation projects. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018. The state faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities and improve roadway safety. The chart below details needed transportation projects throughout the state that lack funding to proceed.

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014, and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. The state’s population increased by 18 percent from 2000 to 2017 and is expected to increase another 38 percent by 2040. North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased 133 percent from 2000 to 2014, the highest rate in the nation during that time. However, the state’s GDP decreased seven percent from 2014 to 2016, the largest decline in the nation during that time. And while North Dakota experienced the largest increase in vehicle miles of travel (VMT) in the nation from 2000 to 2014 (46 percent), the state also experienced the largest decrease in VMT from 2014 to 2016 (seven percent). Energy extraction levels in North Dakota have begun rising again in 2018 following a modest downturn in 2016 and 2017, resulting in additional economic activity and vehicle travel in North Dakota, which will increase wear and tear on the state’s roads, highways, and bridges.

“North Dakota has made investments in recent years out of necessity because of the energy boom and paid for those investments with energy revenue,” said Arik Spencer, president & CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC). “This report makes clear more needs to be done. These findings are consistent with the wishes of GNDC’s members, who consistently cite infrastructure as one of their greatest concerns and name it as a top priority for the next legislative session.”

Nearly two-thirds of North Dakota’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, with pavement conditions projected to decline in the future without additional funding. According to the TRIP report, 36 percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition. The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue. NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.

According to the TRIP report, 14 percent of North Dakota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.  The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota.  The average number of bridges NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.

Traffic crashes in North Dakota claimed the lives of 643 people between 2013 and 2017. The state’s rural, non-Interstate roads are particularly deadly, with a traffic fatality rate that is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).

The efficiency and condition of North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges.

“While the increase of energy-related revenues allowed North Dakota to make strides in improving its transportation system, declining energy-related transportation revenues will result in reduced road and bridge repairs, leading to worsening road, highway and bridge conditions in the state,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Ensuring that North Dakota’s transportation system contributes to a high quality of life in the state and supports North Dakota’s economic development goals will require increased transportation investment.”

Executive Summary

North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges form vital transportation links for the state’s residents, visitors and businesses, providing daily access to homes, jobs, shopping, natural resources and recreation.  The condition, efficiency and funding of North Dakota’s transportation system are critical to quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Peace Garden State.

North Dakota has experienced a significant boom in energy extraction in its western counties that, since 2005, has resulted in a ten-fold increase in crude oil production, spurred by advancements in extraction technology and increases in fuel prices.  While the state’s energy boom has resulted in a tremendous increase in wear and tear on the state’s roadways, it has also provided a significant boost in transportation funding. The modest decrease in energy extraction in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017, as a result of reduced energy prices, has significantly reduced the amount of additional energy-related revenue in North Dakota available for transportation investment. And despite the surge and subsequent drop in energy-related transportation revenues, North Dakota continues to face a significant backlog in needed funding for transportation, largely as a result of a lack of an adequate, dedicated state funding source for road, highway and bridge repairs and improvements.

This report examines the condition, use, safety and funding of North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges and the state’s future mobility needs.  Sources of information for this report include the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 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), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

An increase in transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, has allowed many needed road, highway and bridge projects to proceed.  With the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation improvements. 

  • From 2012 to 2018, $3 billion in state energy-related revenues were spent on transportation improvements in North Dakota. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018.
  • The $3 billion in energy-related revenue used for transportation in North Dakota represents 63 percent of the $4.8 billion in state revenue provided to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), from 2012 to 2018.
  • North Dakota faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities, and improve roadway safety.
  • Largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, NDDOT has been able to proceed with numerous projects to improve the condition, safety and reliability of its roads, highways and bridges.
  • The chart below details North Dakota transportation projects that have been completed, are underway or will be completed by 2021 because of increased state transportation funding, largely due to increased energy-related state revenue.
  • The chart below details needed transportation projects in the state that lack adequate funding to proceed.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014 and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. 

  • North Dakota’s population reached approximately 755,000 residents in 2017, an 18 percent increase since 2000. North Dakota had 555,935 licensed drivers in 2016.
  • North Dakota’s population is expected to increase by 38 percent by 2040 to 1,045,000, an increase of 290,000 people.
  • From 2000 to 2014, North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 133 percent, when adjusted for inflation, the highest rate in the nation during that time. From 2014 to 2016, North Dakota’s GDP decreased by seven percent, when adjusted for inflation, the greatest rate of decline in the nation during that time.
  • Crude oil production in North Dakota increased from 98 thousand barrels a day in 2005 to 1.17 million barrels per day in 2015 before declining to 1.03 and 1.06 million barrels per day in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in North Dakota increased by 46 percent from 2000 to 2014, the greatest rate of increase in the nation during that time. VMT in North Dakota decreased by seven percent between 2014 and 2016, the greatest decrease in the nation during that time.

NORTH DAKOTA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in approximately one-third of major urban roads and highways in North Dakota 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 North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Thirty-six percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Eleven percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 25 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Eight percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 15 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Thirteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 64 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.
  • TRIP estimates that additional vehicle operating costs borne by North Dakota motorists as a result of driving on deteriorated roads is $250 million annually, or $449 per driver

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA

Approximately one-in-seven locally and state-maintained bridges in North Dakota show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Fourteen percent of North Dakota’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 average number of bridges that NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota
  • 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 North Dakota, 46 percent of the state’s bridges (2,030 of 4,377) were built in 1969 or earlier.
  • A recent survey of states by the U.S. General Accountability Office(GAO) found that more than half of states surveyed (14 out of 24) reported that inadequate funding was a challenge to their ability to maintain bridges in a state of good repair.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN NORTH DAKOTA

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

  • A total of 643 people were killed in North Dakota traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 128 fatalities per year.
  • North Dakota’s overall traffic fatality rate in 2016 of 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is below the national average of 1.18.
  • The fatality rate on North Dakota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).
  • 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; the use of high-friction surfacing treatment to improve skid resistance; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; improved road markings; improved signage and delineation at curves; and, improved intersection design.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN NORTH DAKOTA

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, which expires in 2020, 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.
  • Crafting a long-term federal highway and transit program to replace the expiring FAST Act in 2020 would likely require Congress to identify a long-term, sustainable source of funding to support increased funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which currently has a balance of $44 billion, but which is expected to reach a negative balance by 2021.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTH DAKOTA

The efficiency of North Dakota’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 North Dakota are significant sources of employment in the state.  

  • Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-four percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in North Dakota are carried by trucks and another 11 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in North Dakota support 13,258 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $667 million annually.
  • Approximately 215,200 full-time jobs in North Dakota in key industries like energy, tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely 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. 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.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), 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 General Accounting Office (GAO), 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.