Tag Archive for 'bridges'

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2014

Moving ahead no matter what...

Moving ahead no matter what…

Recapping is a lot easier than forecasting. Looking back to see what has been accomplished is based on what is here. Looking ahead to see what will be, is based on a lot of assumptions, what-ifs, dreams and conjecture. The first is concrete, while the second is often smoke and mirrors as seen through a cloud of wishful thinking.

At a recent meeting with reader-advisors from Texas Contractor we unrolled a short list of what we thought would be hot topics for 2014. On a national level these items included:

  • Expiration of the Federal Highway Bill in 2014 and the loss of jobs as a result. The problem with short-term, stopgap bills is that they provide the states with the necessary funds to do more than stopgap maintenance. Serious improvements cannot become a reality. We are living with a transportation infrastructure that is decades old and in serious need of updating if we are going to remain commercially competitive on a global level. Additionally, the loss of construction jobs will, by some estimates, exceed hundreds of thousands.
  • Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax expiring in 2016. The impact of this equation is obvious: No tax dollars = no funds for transportation maintenance and/or updates. In early December 2013, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) along with leaders in the fields of transportation, labor, commerce, and construction introduced H.R. 3636 The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act.  This bill would phase in a 15 cent/gallon tax increase over the next three years on gasoline and diesel.

“The gas tax hasn’t been increased since the beginning of the Clinton administration,” said Blumenauer.  “Today, with inflation and increased fuel efficiency for vehicles, the average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993. It’s time for Congress to act.  There’s a broad and persuasive coalition that stands ready to support Congress, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National AFL-CIO, the construction and trucking industry, cyclists, professional groups, numerous associations of small and medium businesses, local governments, and transit agencies. We just need to give them something to support.” Scan below for full article.

  • Skilled labor shortages have been a problem for some time with the condition being exacerbated by the problem with immigration. Many contractors point out the facts that “illegals” are willing to work. They are reliable, they are skilled, and they are willing to do the work when no one else will. Contractors have commented that while they comply with current regulations and don’t hire anyone without green card or suitable papers, their competition will.
  • Creeping inflation and the resulting increase in prices for construction related materials and equipment. The lack of stability, especially with fuel prices, makes it difficult to project costs.

Contractors participating in the meeting voiced their concerns, which focused on:

Quality of workforce

Safety

Keeping the funnel full, i.e. the availability of work, especially transportation.

Workforce/immigration

Contract issues

Training

The workforce problem is more serious in different areas of the country and different segments of the industry. If the economy went into a rapid growth mode this situation would become more universal

FMI has recently released its 2013 report on U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development that is based on responses nationwide from a mix of general contractors and construction managers at firms of all sizes and specialties, including mechanical/plumbing and heavy/highway/civil. To view FMI’s full report scan below.

More than half of respondents report a shortage in skilled labor. As a war for talent begins, construction experts must evolve their methodology of searching for the best and brightest employees. First, construction careers must be made more appealing to women and minorities. Second, there must be an appeal to today’s youth through career counselors, career fairs and utilization of social media channels.

An industry, any industry cannot survive unless it has:

The need for its existence

The materials and equipment

The people trained and skilled to implement its execution

Construction is a very material, equipment and people intensive industry. Without any of these components its continued existence becomes jeopardized. Without construction the economy cannot grow and prosper.

What do you think? What concerns keep you awake at night? If you’d like to share your thoughts and opinions, please feel free to e-mail them to: GSitek@ACPpubs.com.

For fuel tax article: click here

For FMI’s full report:     click here

This article appeared in the January 2014 issues of the ACP publications

 

 

TRIP Report: West Virginia Transportation By The Numbers:Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

 

TRIPTen Key Transportation Numbers in West Virginia

 

 

$333

$400

$383

 

Driving on rough roads costs the average West Virginia motorist $333 annually in extra vehicle operating costs– a total of $400 million statewide annually. The average Charleston-area motorist loses $383 each year as a result of driving on rough roads . Additional vehicle operating costs result from driving on rough roads and include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
 

#2

West Virginia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.78 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 was the second highest nationally (behind only Montana at 1.79) and was 62 percent higher than the national average of 1.10.

 

35 %

A total of 35 percent of West Virginia bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Thirteen percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 22 percent are functionally obsolete.

$425 million

If a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in West Virginia will be cut by $425 million for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014.

 

2X

The fatality rate on West Virginia’s non-interstate rural roads is more than double the rate on all other roads in the state (2.54 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 1.19).

36%

 

42%

Thirty-six percent of West Virginia’s major roads are in either poor or mediocre condition.  Forty-two percent of Charleston-area major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

364

1,820

On average, 364 people were killed annually in West Virginia traffic crashes from 2007 to 2011, a total of 1,820 fatalities over the five year period.

$2.26

 

34%

 

 

From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $2.26 for road improvements in West Virginia for every $1.00 paid in federal motor fuel fees.   From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 34 percent of state spending on West Virginia’s roads, highways and bridges.

23 %

20 %

Vehicle miles of travel in West Virginia increased 23 percent from 1990 to 2011 and are expected to increase another 20 percent by 2030.

 

$1.00 = $5.20

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.

Executive Summa

West Virginia’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. West Virginia’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

As West Virginia looks to retain its businesses, continue its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses.  Making needed improvements to West Virginia’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

With a current unemployment rate of 6.1 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, West Virginia must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all West Virginians.  Meeting West Virginia’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), the current federal surface transportation program, will fund surface transportation programs in West Virginia at approximately $424 million annually for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

While the new federal surface transportation program has streamlined several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program.  As a result, nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting on October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.  This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in West Virginia.

Population and economic growth in West Virginia have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system. 

  • West Virginia’s population reached nearly 1.9 million in 2012, a three percent increase since 1990. West Virginia had 1,198,837 licensed drivers in 2011.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in West Virginia increased  23 percent from 1990 to 2011 – jumping from 15.4 billion VMT in 1990 to 19 billion VMT in 2011.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in West Virginia is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2011, West Virginia’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 37 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

One-third of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in West Virginia have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • Twelve percent of West Virginia’s major roads and highways have pavements in poor condition while an additional 24 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre condition.  Eighteen percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 46 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The pavement data in this report for all arterial roads and highways is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • In the Charleston urban area, 15 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-six percent of major roads in the Charleston area are rated in fair condition and 31 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.  In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed. Roads rated in mediocre condition may show signs of significant wear and may also have some visible pavement distress. Most pavements in mediocre condition can be repaired by resurfacing, but some may need more extensive reconstruction to return them to good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs West Virginia motorists a total of $400 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average West Virginian motorists $333 annually and the average Charleston-area driver $383 in extra vehicle operating costs.

More than one-third of locally and state-maintained bridges in West Virginia show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Thirteen percent of West Virginia’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. 
  • Twenty-two percent of West Virginia’s bridges are functionally obsolete.  Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

West Virginia’s traffic fatality rate is the second highest in the nation.  Improving safety features on West Virginia’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. 

  • West Virginia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.78 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 was the second highest nationally, behind only Montana at 1.79. West Virginia’s traffic fatality rate was 62 percent higher than the national average of 1.10.
  • Between 2007 and 2011 a total of 1,820 people were killed in traffic crashes in West Virginia, an average of 364 fatalities per year.
  • The fatality rate on West Virginia’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.54 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2011, more than double the 1.19 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • 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 the next 20 years.

The efficiency of West Virginia’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and reliable 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, $49.8 billion in goods are shipped from sites in West Virginia and another $54.1 billion in goods are shipped to sites in West Virginia, mostly by truck.
  • Sixty-five percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in West Virginia are carried by trucks and another 11 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.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • 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.

The federal government remains a critical source of funding for West Virginia’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to West Virginia in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.     

  • MAP-21, approved by Congress in July 2012, greatly increased funding flexibility for states and streamlined project approval processes to improve the efficiency of state and local transportation agencies in providing needed transportation improvements in the state.
  • MAP-21 does not provide sufficient long-term revenues to support the current level of federal surface transportation investment.  Nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.  This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • If a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in West Virginia will be cut by $425 million for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $2.26 for road improvements in West Virginia for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 34 percent of state spending on West Virginia’s roads, highways and bridges.

Sources of information for this report include the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report is the latest available

TRIP Report: JACKSON , MS AREA DRIVERS WASTE MORE THAN $1,500 EACH YEAR DRIVING ON DEFICIENT ROADS – A TOTAL OF $1.6 BILLION STATEWIDE. SIXTY-EIGHT PERCENT OF JACKSON AREA MAJOR ROADS NEED IMPROVEMENT, MORE THAN ONE FIFTH OF MISSISSIPPI BRIDGES NEED REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT

TRIPMore than two-thirds of Jackson’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition, more than one fifth of the state’s bridges need repair or replacement, and Mississippi’s drivers experience growing congestion and delays. In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, Mississippi’s rural roads have a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than all other roads in the state. Increased investment in transportation improvements could improve road and bridge conditions, ease congestion, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Mississippi, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. The TRIP report, Mississippi Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” provides data on key transportation facts and figures in the state.

 

$1.6 billion

TRIP estimates that Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.

$1,506

$1,272

Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Jackson area driver $1,506 annually. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, the average driver loses $1,272 each year.

28%

68%

46%

Twenty-eight percent of Mississippi’s roads are either in poor or mediocre condition.  Sixty-eight percent of Jackson-area major locally and state- maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, 46 percent of major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

728

3,638

5th

From 2007 to 2011, an average of 728 people were killed annually in Mississippi traffic crashes, a total of 3,638 fatalities.  Mississippi’s traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 was the fifth highest level nationally.

 

2X

The fatality rate on Mississippi’s non-interstate rural roads is more than double that on all other roads in the state (2.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.99).

 

22 %

A total of 22 percent of Mississippi bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Fourteen percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and eight percent are functionally obsolete.

59 %

35 %

Vehicle miles of travel in Mississippi increased 59 percent from 1990 to 2011 and are expected to increase another 35 percent by 2030.

$470 million

If a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in Mississippi could be cut by $470 million for the federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014.

 

$1.27

51%

 

From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $1.27 for road improvements in Mississippi for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.   From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 51 percent of state spending on Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges.

 

$1.00 = $5.20

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced roadway maintenance costs, and reduced emissions.

Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion each year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and traffic crashes. Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Jackson area driver $1,506 annually and the average Gulfport/Biloxi area driver $1,272 annually.

“This study is further evidence that Mississippi’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at an alarming rate,” said House Transportation Chairman Robert Johnson. “The effects of weather and heavy traffic on our roadways is becoming a public safety issue that the legislature cannot ignore. Improving our transportation infrastructure is not only vital for public safety concerns, it directly impacts Mississippi’s ability to attract new businesses and retain existing industries. Our future economy depends on it.”

Growing traffic congestion, particularly in the state’s urban areas, threatens to choke commuting and commerce. The average commuter in the Jackson metro area loses 25 additional hours each year stuck in traffic due to traffic congestion and the average commuter in the Gulfport/Biloxi metro area loses 24 additional hours each year stuck in traffic due to traffic congestion.

Traffic crashes in Mississippi claimed the lives of 3,638 people between 2007 and 2011. The state’s 2011 traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT) is significantly higher than the national average of 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT and was the fifth highest among all states, behind only Montana (1.79), West Virginia (1.78), South Carolina (1.70) and Arkansas (1.67). The traffic fatality rate in 2011 on Mississippi’s non-Interstate rural roads was 2.27 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than double the 0.99 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.

“These key transportation numbers in Mississippi add up to trouble for the state’s residents in terms of deteriorated roads and bridges, reduced traffic safety and constrained economic development,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Improving road and bridge conditions, improving traffic safety and providing a transportation system that will support economic development in Mississippi will require a significant boost in state and federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”

Executive Summary

Mississippi’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Mississippi’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

As Mississippi looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

With a current unemployment rate of 8.5 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Mississippi must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Mississippians. Meeting Mississippi’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21(Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21Century Act), will fund surface transportation programs in Mississippi at an average of $469 million annually for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), will fund surface transportation programs in Mississippi at an average of $469 million annually for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

While the new federal surface transportation program has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. As a result, nationwide federal funding for highways will be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting on October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Mississippi.

An inadequate transportation system costs Mississippi residents a total of $1.6 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Mississippi roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $1.6 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the annual cost to Mississippi residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features both statewide and in the state’s largest urban area. The following chart shows the cost breakdown for these areas.

Population and economic growth in Mississippi have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Mississippi’s population reached nearly 3 million in 2012, a 16 percent increase since 1990. Mississippi had 1,926,603 licensed drivers in 2011.
  • Vehicle miles traveled in Mississippi increased by 59 percent from 1990 to 2011 – jumping from 24.4 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 38.9 billion VMT in 2011.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Mississippi is projected to increase by another 35 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2011, Mississippi’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 47 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Twenty-eight percent of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in Mississippi have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

•           Eight percent of Mississippi’s major roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 20 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 52 percent are rated in good condition.

  • The pavement data in this report for all arterial roads and highways is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in the state.
  • In the Jackson urban area, 45 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor condition and 23 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of Jackson’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 21 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-nine percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Gulfport/Biloxi area are rated in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of major urban roads in the Gulfport/Biloxi are rated in fair condition and 38 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed. Roads rated in mediocre condition may show signs of significant wear and may also have some visible pavement distress. Most pavements in mediocre condition can be repaired by resurfacing, but some may need more extensive reconstruction to return them to good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Mississippi motorists a total of $627 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Jackson motorist $741 annually in extra vehicle operating costs. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, the average driver loses $531each year as a result of driving on deteriorated roads.

More than one-fifth of locally and state-maintained bridges in Mississippi show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Fourteen percent of Mississippi’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.
  • Eight percent of Mississippi’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Significant levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Mississippi, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Jackson urban area loses $594 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Jackson urban spends an additional 25 hours per year stuck in traffic as a result of traffic congestion.
  • TTI estimates that the average driver in the Gulfport/Biloxi urban area loses $522 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Gulfport/Biloxi urban spends an additional 24 hours each year stuck in traffic as a result of traffic congestion.

Mississippi’s traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes is more than double that on all other roads and highways in the state. Improving safety features on Mississippi’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2007 and 2011 a total of 3,638 people were killed in traffic crashes in Mississippi, an average of 728 fatalities per year.
  • Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 is higher than the national average of 1.10, the fifth highest level nationally.
  • The fatality rate on Mississippi’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.27 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2011, more than double the 0.99 fatality rate in 2011 on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in Mississippi in 2011 in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor was approximately $573 million.
  • In the Jackson urban area, the cost of serious traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $171 annually per motorist. The cost of serious traffic crashes in the Gulfport/Biloxi area in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $219 per motorist.
  • 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 the next 20 years.

The efficiency of Mississippi’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and reliable 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, $91 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Mississippi and another $104 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Mississippi, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Mississippi are carried by trucks and another four percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • 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 2011 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • A 2013 report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the $1.4 billion spent annually on road, highway and bridge construction and maintenance in Mississippi supports approximately 37,000 full-time jobs, including approximately 18,400 jobs in transportation construction and related activities and approximately 18,600 jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • 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.

The federal government remains a critical source of funding for Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Mississippi in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.

  • The MAP-21 program, approved by Congress in July 2012, greatly increased funding flexibility for states and streamlined project approval processes to improve the efficiency of state and local transportation agencies in providing needed transportation improvements in the state.
  • MAP-21 does not provide sufficient long-term revenues to support the current level of federal surface transportation investment. Nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • If the funding shortfalls into the federal Highway Trust Fund are addressed solely by cutting spending it is estimated that federal funding for highway and transit improvements in Mississippi will be cut by $470 million for the federal fiscal year starting October 1, 2014, unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $1.27 for road improvements in Mississippi for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 51 percent of state spending on Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges.

Sources of information for this report include the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Continues To Gain Jobs In November

CEU2“November is the third consecutive month nonresidential construction experienced job growth, which is positive after seeing losses April through August.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Employment - December 2013National construction employment expanded by 17,000 jobs in November, according to a Dec. 6 report by the U.S. Department of Labor. Nonresidential construction added 7,700 positions on a monthly basis, contributing nearly half (45.2 percent) of the overall gain in construction employment.

The national construction unemployment rate was 8.6 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, down from 9 percent in October and 12.2 percent one year ago.

“It is encouraging to see nonresidential construction employment build on the momentum experienced in September and October,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “November is the third consecutive month nonresidential construction experienced job growth, which is positive after seeing losses April through August.”

Across all industries, the nation added 203,000 jobs. The private sector expanded by 196,000 jobs and the public sector gained 7,000 jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, the national unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in November, down from 7.3 percent in October. This represents the lowest unemployment rate since November 2008. However, this is partially due to a dismal 63 percent labor force participation, which is only a slight rebound from October’s historic low of 62.8 percent.

“Despite the increase in November, labor force participation is still down compared to before the government shutdown,” Basu said. “This helps explain one of the economy’s central contradictions: a growing lack of available construction workers in parts of the country in the midst of a soft labor market.

“Despite these problematic labor force dynamics, there was significant improvement in the types of jobs gained in November,” said Basu. “For example, leisure and hospitality and retail trade, two low-wage sectors, accounted for nearly half of October’s job growth. But in November, the sectors accounted for less than 20 percent of new jobs.”

Every construction segment produced additional employment opportunities in November.

• Nonresidential building construction employment rose by 2,300 jobs for the month and is up by 19,900 jobs, or 3 percent, since November 2012.

• Residential building construction employment grew by 1,300 jobs in November and is up 21,300 jobs, or 3.7 percent, on an annual basis.

• Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 5,400 jobs for the month and have gained 39,500 jobs, or 1.9 percent, since the same time last year.

• Residential specialty trade contractors gained 7,100 jobs in November and have added 81,200 jobs, or 5.4 percent, since November 2012.

• Heavy and civil engineering construction added 200 jobs in November and is up by 15,600 jobs, or 1.8 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

To view the previous Employment report, click here.

December! Not Again!

sitekHow many times have you said or thought this or something similar? Too many for me to state… Counting the years is not really important; each is only a milepost along the highway of life; a way of marking progress or lack of; another notch.

Actually it’s more than that. It’s a time filled with our biggest holiday; a time when we stop and look at tomorrow’s possibilities and yesterdays accomplishments and/or failures; it’s a time for celebrating and a time for planning. It’s a time that proves we humans are not very bright. Why would we create a situation of conflict that demands our time, focus and attention to do planning for tomorrow and celebrating?

As the final page of the 2013 calendar turns maybe we’d be better off focusing on the celebration and forgetting the planning. Unfortunately we can’t do that but we certainly can take the time to celebrate the good things in our lives and express appreciation and gratitude for all we have.

2014 will be a year filled with opportunities and challenges. At the beginning of the year we have CONEXPO-CON/AGG, which promises to be an interesting industry show filled with new products, new technologies and new manufacturer/suppliers. There will be several first-time Chinese equipment manufacturers entering the U.S. market that will add a new level of excitement to the show. The exhibitor list is greater than it was in 2011 and attendance is expected to set records.

At the tail end of the year will be the “Mid-term” elections and in between the expiration of the current fuel tax bill and the extended highway bill. What happens with these two pieces of legislation will probably have a great impact on our industry, commerce and the national economy. With a rapidly deteriorating transportation infrastructure it is critical that something positive be done to address this need.

What is the outlook for 2014? Looking at back on 2013 ahead to 2014, in a state of retrospective reflection, the first thought that comes to my mind is a line from an old Harry Belafonte song, Man Piaba, “It was clear as mud but it covered the ground
And the confusion made the brain go ’round.” There has been very little media coverage on these pieces of legislation it’s easy to forget that they come into play very soon. If it weren’t for the associations like AEM, ARTBA, NAPA and others, they would probably fade into oblivion.

There are all the other important issues that are of concern, like healthcare, the national debt, the debt ceiling, etc., etc., etc. but these are getting endless coverage by the mainstream media. We as citizens of this country need to become actively involved in the politics of our country. It’s time for us to stop thinking that our responsibility as a citizen ends when we have cast our votes; that this alone is the needed extent of our involvement.

In 2014 become involved in the issues and politics that will shape this country’s future and the legacy we leave our progeny. Don’t just vote, know who and what you vote for; understand the issues and let you representatives on a local state and federal level know how you expect them to represent you.

On that note, we at ACP wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…

NOTE: This editorial appears in the December 2013 issues of all 13 ACP magazines.