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ARTBA Bridge Reports That There Are Nearly 56,000 American Bridges That Are Structurally Deficient


Nearly 56,000 American Bridges on Structurally Deficient List, New Analysis of Federal Data Shows

Data Available: www.artbabridgereport.org

Highlights:

List includes: Brooklyn & Throgs Neck (N.Y.), Yankee Doodle (Conn.), Memorial (Va.-DC) and Greensboro (N.C.) Bridges.
1,900 structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.
Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old, compared to 39 years for non-deficient bridges.
41% of U.S. bridges (250,406) are over 40 years old and have not had major reconstruction work.
Website features listing of deficient bridges by state and congressional district.

(WASHINGTON) – The length of the nation’s structurally deficient bridges if placed end-to-end would stretch 1,276 miles, half the distance from New York to Los Angeles, a new examination of federal government data shows. It’s a problem that hits close to home.

An analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) recently-released 2016 National Bridge Inventory data finds cars, trucks and school buses cross the nation’s 55,710 structurally compromised bridges 185 million times daily. About 1,900 are on the Interstate Highway System. State transportation departments have identified 13,000 Interstate bridges that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction.

The inventory of structurally deficient bridges has declined 0.5 percent since the 2015 report. At that pace, it would take more than two decades to replace or repair all of them, according to American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis.

Black says the data shows 28 percent of bridges (173,919) are over 50 years old and have never had any major reconstruction work in that time.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” Black says. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

To help ensure public safety, bridge decks and support structures are regularly inspected for deterioration and remedial action. They are rated on a scale of zero to nine—with nine meaning the bridge is in “excellent” condition. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if its overall rating is four or below.

While these bridges may not be imminently unsafe, they are in need of attention.

Other key findings in the ARTBA analysis:

Iowa (4,968), Pennsylvania (4,506), Oklahoma (3,460), Missouri (3,195), Nebraska (2,361), Illinois (2,243), Kansas (2,151), Mississippi (2,098), Ohio (1,942) and New York (1,928) have the most structurally deficient bridges. The District of Columbia (9), Nevada (31), Delaware (43), Hawaii (64) and Utah (95) have the least.

At least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states—Rhode Island (25 percent), Iowa (21 percent), Pennsylvania (20 percent), South Dakota (20 percent), West Virginia (17 percent), Nebraska (15 percent), North Dakota (15 percent) and Oklahoma (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.
State—and congressional district—specific information from the analysis—including rankings and the locations of the 250 most heavily travelled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and top 25 most heavily traveled in each state—is available at www.artbabridgereport.org.

Established in 1902, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA is the “consensus voice” of the U.S. transportation design and construction industry before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, news media and the general public.

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TRIP Reports:Driving on deficient roads costs Alabama motorists a total of $4.2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

ALABAMA TRANSPORTATION

BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and

Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Alabama

 

 

$4.2 billion

Driving on deficient roads costs Alabama motorists a total of $4.2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
 

Birmingham: $1,663

Huntsville: $1,325

Mobile: $1,437

Montgomery: $1,296

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in Alabama’s largest urban areas in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Driving on deficient roads costs the average Birmingham area driver $1,663 annually, while the average driver in the Huntsville area loses $1,325 each year. The average driver in the Mobile area loses $1,437 annually and the average Montgomery area driver loses $1,296.
4,280

856

A total of 4,280 people were killed in Alabama traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 856 fatalities annually.
 

1.26

Alabama’s roads and highways have a fatality rate of 1.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
 

2X

The fatality rate on Alabama’s rural roads is more than double the fatality rate on all other roads in the state (1.96 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 0.92).
 

19%

Statewide, 19 percent of Alabama’s major urban roads are in poor condition. Forty-one percent are in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 40 percent are in good condition.
$436 Billion Annually, $436 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by truck.
 

8%

Eight percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.
Birmingham: 34 hours

Huntsville: 23 hours

Mobile: 30 hours

Montgomery: 24 hours

Congestion is robbing Alabama drivers of time and money. The average driver in the Birmingham area loses 34 hours annually to congestion, while drivers in the Huntsville area lose 23 hours each year. Mobile area drivers spend an average of 30 hours each year stuck in traffic, while Montgomery area drivers lose 24 hours annually.
 

$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 Summary

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Alabama’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Alabama, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Yellowhammer State.

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

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

In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in Alabama as the state addresses its need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.

In December 2015 the president signed into law a long-term federal surface transportation program that includes modest funding increases and allows state and local governments to plan and finance projects with greater certainty through 2020. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) provides approximately $305 billion for surface transportation with highway and transit funding slated to increase by approximately 15 and 18 percent, respectively, over the five-year duration of the program. While the modest funding increase and certainty provided by the FAST Act are a step in the right direction, the funding falls far short of the level needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue for the federal Highway Trust Fund.

COST TO ALABAMA MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

An inadequate transportation system costs Alabama motorists a total of $4.2 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Alabama motorists a total of $1.5 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost Alabama residents a total of $1.5 billion each year in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Alabama residents a total of $1.2 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas as well as statewide.

 

POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN ALABAMA

The rate of population and economic growth in Alabama have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Alabama’s population reached approximately 4.9 million residents in 2015, a nine percent increase since 2000.
  • Alabama had 3.9 million licensed drivers in 2014.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Alabama increased 21 percent from 56.5 billion VMT in 2000 to 68.5 billion VMT in 2015. VMT in Alabama during the first six months of 2016 was 3.3 percent higher than during the first six months of 2015.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Alabama’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 22 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

ALABAMA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in 19 percent of major urban roads and highways in Alabama having pavement surfaces in poor 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 Alabama Department of Transportation Cabinet (ALDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Pavement data for Interstate highways and other principal arterials is collected for all system mileage, whereas pavement data for minor arterial and all collector roads and highways is based on sampling portions of roadways as prescribed by FHWA to insure that the data collected is adequate to provide an accurate assessment of pavement conditions on these roads and highways.
  • Nineteen percent of Alabama’s major urban locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition, while 41 percent are in mediocre or fair condition. The remaining 40 percent are in good condition.
  • The chart below details the share of major roads in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in the state’s largest urban areas.

 

  • Roads rated in mediocre to poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.       In some cases, these roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Alabama motorists a total of $1.5 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

ALABAMA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Approximately one in twelve of locally and state-maintained bridges in Alabama 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.

  • Eight percent of Alabama’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 chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in Alabama’s largest urban areas.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN ALABAMA

Improving safety features on Alabama’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • A total of 4,280 people were killed in Alabama traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 856 fatalities per year.
  • Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014 was significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on Alabama’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was more than double that on all other roads in the state (1.96 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.92).
  • In the Birmingham urban area, an average of 83 people were killed in traffic crashes over the last three years, while an average of 30 people were killed in traffic crashes in the Huntsville urban area during that time. An average of 71 people were killed in crashes in the Mobile area over the last three years, while in Montgomery, there was an average of 31 annual traffic fatalities over the last three years.
  • Traffic crashes in Alabama imposed a total of $4.6 billion in economic costs in 2014. TRIP estimates that traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.5 billion in economic costs in 2014.
  • 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 20 years.

ALABAMA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

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

  • The chart below details what congestion costs the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of lost time and wasted fuel and the number of hours lost annually to congestion.Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN ALABAMA

Investment in Alabama’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. The current five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source.

  • According to the 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report, a significant boost in investment in the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs.
  • AASHTO’s report found that based on an annual one percent increase in VMT annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase 36 percent, from $88 billion to $120 billion, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs, based on an annual one percent rate of vehicle travel growth. Investment in the nation’s public transit system needs to increase from $17 billion to $43 billion.
  • The Bottom Line Report found that if the national rate of vehicle travel increased by 1.4 percent per year, the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 64 percent to $144 billion. If vehicle travel grows by 1.6 percent annually the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 77 percent to $156 billion.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN ALABAMA

The efficiency of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable 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, $436 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Alabama are carried by trucks and another 12 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.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • 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.

Sources of information for this report include 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) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).