Tag Archive for 'construction industry'

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Ford Transit Takes Over As Best-Selling Full-Size Van in U.S.

imagesFord Transit closed out 2014 by capturing the title of best-selling full-size van for the second month in a row – reflecting increasing demand for Ford’s innovative new full-size van.

Transit is Ford’s replacement for the venerable E-Series, first sold in 1961 as Econoline. In 2014, sales of the Transit and E-Series totaled 123,711 vans, outselling the nearest competitor by 17,718 vehicles. As a result, Ford extends its leadership of the full-size van market to 36 years in the United States. Transit also has been the best-selling van in the United Kingdom for 49 years.

U.S. sales of 10,030 Transits in December nearly equal the 10,418 total sold over the previous six months – the vehicle’s first months of production.

Ford’s smaller Transit Connect van also had a breakout December, setting its own monthly performance record with 5,012 vehicles sold. Total 2014 sales of 43,210 vans make Transit Connect the best-selling small van of the year.

“We are seeing a resurgence in the van market as customers increasingly take advantage of the versatility, efficiency and low cost of ownership of Transit and Transit Connect,” says Yaroslav Hetman, brand manager for Transit, Transit Connect and E-Series. “December was an exciting month for us, as we sold more vans in the United States than in any single month since June 1999. It is clear that our new vans are connecting with our customers’ needs for modern, flexible work vehicles.”

Transit is available with a choice of three roof heights, two wheelbases, three body lengths and three engines, which can be combined into 47 possible body configurations from the factory to enable customers to purchase the Transit that best fits their needs. Transit vans offer up to 487 cubic feet of cargo space – 75 percent more than the largest E-Series – and are designed with upfitters in mind, ready to accept many aftermarket rack and bin systems. Maximum payload is 4,560 pounds whenproperly equipped. High-roof Transit cargo vans allow an inside stand-up height of six feet, nine and one-half inches.

Transit wagon is available with seating for as many as 15 passengers when properly equipped, and high-roof models offer an inside stand-up height of six feet, five inches.

Available powertrains include two gasoline-powered V6 engines and one diesel-powered inline five-cylinder. The available 3.5-liter EcoBoost® provides 46 percent better EPA-estimated fuel economy than the premium gas engine available in E-Series van.

Transit is manufactured at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri for the North American market. It is built on Ford’s experience addressing the needs of the 7 million-plus customers who have purchased Transit in 118 markets around the world.

Transit Connect is ideal for businesses that require capability in a smaller package. The van provides best-in-class torque rating of 184 lb.-ft. and an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 mpg highway. Transit Connect also provides an unsurpassed 178 horsepower when run on premium fuel and towing capacity of 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Hiring Surges

CEU2“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Construction employment december 2014The U.S. construction industry added 48,000 jobs in December, including 22,800 jobs in nonresidential construction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary estimate released Jan. 9. November’s estimate was unchanged in this release, remaining at 20,000 net new construction jobs, but nonresidential construction’s November jobs figure was upwardly revised to 7,100 jobs.

“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This represents good news for the construction industry in 2015 and perhaps beyond, particularly with respect to office construction, retail construction, and other segments that benefit directly from accelerating job growth and decreasing unemployment. Overall, the economy has built steady momentum since the end of last winter adding an average of 246,000 jobs per month in 2014, an increase of more than 50,000 jobs added per month compared to 2013.”

According to the BLS household survey, the national unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December. This represents the lowest level of unemployment since June 2008. The declining unemployment rate is most likely a result of a labor force that shrank by 273,000 persons in December, after expanding in the previous two months. The labor force participation rate fell by .02 percent and now sits at 62.7 percent.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the report is that construction unemployment ended the year at 8.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis,” said Basu. “While construction firm executives have been worried for years about the specter of construction skills shortages, the BLS data indicate there are plenty of people looking for jobs in construction. It is likely that many of these prospective workers lack the skills necessary to fill the openings construction firms are seeking to fill or live in areas where construction employment growth is much slower. Normally, high construction unemployment would imply slow rates of wage and compensation increases; however, ABC believes this is not the case. Because of the presence of skills mismatches, wage gains are likely to be sizeable in 2015 even in the presence of lofty rates of construction unemployment.”

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment expanded by 10,000 for the month and is up by 23,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent, since December 2013.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 800 jobs in December and is up by 44,500 jobs, or 7 percent, on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 12,800 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 76,900 jobs, or 3.7 percent, from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors gained 12,700 jobs in December and have added 87,600 jobs, or 5.6 percent, since December 2013.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment gained 11,600 jobs in December and job totals are up by 57,900, or 6.6 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

To view the previous employment report, click here.

New TRIP Report Documents Recent Improvements In Kansas’ Roads And Bridges And Challenges Still Faced By State In Providing A Well-Maintained, Safe Annd Efficient Transportation System

TRIPKansas has made progress in improving state road and bridge conditions, largely through increased transportation funding provided by the T-WORKS program, which was authorized by the state legislature in 2010. But, the state still faces challenges in addressing traffic safety, state and local road and bridge conditions, and further modernizing the state’s transportation system to support economic growth, finds a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC-based national transportation organization.

According to the TRIP report, Modernizing Kansas’ Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” since the T-WORKS program was passed by the Kansas legislature in in 2010, it has allowed for the completion of over 1,000 transportation projects, the improvement of nearly 8,000 miles of roads, and the repair or replacement of nearly 600 bridges. But, further improvements to the state’s transportation program are jeopardized by the uncertainty over future levels of funding from the federal surface transportation program, which expires in May 2015.

Twenty-nine percent of Kansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 25 percent are rated in good condition. Road conditions across the state have been improved largely through funding provided by the T-WORKS program, which allocates approximately $7.8 billion to highway preservation, modernization and expansion projects throughout Kansas over a 10-year period. Funding provided by the T-WORKS program allowed Kansas to improve 7,714 miles of state-maintained roadway since 2010. Through the second half of the 10-year program, the state plans to make improvements to an additional 5,000 miles of roadways.

Seventeen percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Kansas show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. Ten percent of Kansas’ bridges are structurally deficient, meaning 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 Kansas Department of Transportation in 2014 set aside $10 million to reduce the number of deficient locally-maintained bridges. The additional funding will allow improvements to 77 locally-maintained bridges. Seven percent of Kansas’ 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. Funding provided by the T-WORKS program has allowed the state to repair or replace 559 bridges since 2010. `

“KDOT has done an outstanding job delivering the first half of our 10-year TWORKS transportation program. Specifically in the Kansas City metro area, troubling bottlenecks are being removed, safety enhancements are being made, and economic development is increasing due in great part to TWORKS. There is much left to do over the next five years to saves lives, create jobs, and expand our economy,” says Rick Worrel, owner of Affinis Corp, president of ACEC Kansas, and long-time champion of transportation and quality of life efforts at the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. “Passing a long-term federal transportation program, maintaining the state’s 4/10-cent transportation sales tax, and fully funding TWORKS will ensure Kansas is a safe place to move people, goods, and services and remain a catalyst for economic growth.”

Kansas’ traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the national average, and the fatality rate on the state’s rural roads is approximately three times higher than on all other roads in the state. Between 2008 and 2012, 1,993 people were killed in traffic crashes in Kansas, an average of 399 fatalities per year. Kansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.32 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. The traffic fatality rate on Kansas’ non-Interstate rural roads in 2012 was approximately three times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state – 2.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel compared to 0.74. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. Improving safety features on the state’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

The federal government is a critical source of funding for Kansas’ roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Kansas in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax. Congress recently approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), the long-term federal surface transportation program, on which states rely for road, highway, bridge and transit funding. The program, initially set to expire on September 30, 2014, will now run through May 31, 2015. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.22 for road improvements in Kansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.

Many needed projects throughout the state will require significant federal funding in order to proceed. These projects include the reconstruction of mainline US-69 in Kansas City, the completion of the Gateway Project to modernize Kansas’ portion of the highway network in the Kansas City area, the reconstruction and modernization of a portion of I-70 in Topeka, the construction of a bypass around the northwest portion of Wichita connecting US-54 to I-235/K-96, the reconstruction of the I-135/I-235/K-254/K-96 interchange in Wichita, and the construction of highway bypasses around Pratt, Kingman and Pittsburg. A full list of projects threatened by a lack of federal funding can be found in the report’s Appendix.

“In recent years, the Kansas legislature has provided funding that was instrumental in improving the state’s surface transportation system,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “In order for the state to continue its progress in maintaining and modernizing this system, adequate funding must be made available at the local, state and federal levels of government. The quality of life of the state’s residents and the health of Kansas’ economy are riding on it.”

MODERNIZING KANSAS’ TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM:

Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Road

Executive Summary

            Kansas’ 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 and quality of life for all Kansas residents.

As Kansas looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to continue 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, safe and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Kansas’ roads, highways and bridges could also provide a 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 the state’s population continuing to grow, Kansas must continue to improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep and attract businesses to the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Kansas’ need to further modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Kansas has undertaken a sustained commitment to upgrade the condition and efficiency of its roads, highways and bridges and modernize its transportation network. Kansas’ Transportation Works for Kansas (T-WORKS) program, which was authorized by the state legislature in 2010, provides $7.8 billion in transportation funding over 10 years. T-WORKS projects are funded primarily through a 4/10 cent sales tax. By improving Kansas’ network of roads, bridges and transit, the program also creates jobs, preserves and improves the state’s infrastructure assets, and promotes economic development across the state.

To date, the T-WORKS program has allowed for the completion of over 1,000 transportation projects, the improvement of nearly 8,000 miles of roads, and the repair or replacement of nearly 600 bridges. These improvements have benefited the entire state, as the T-WORKS legislation mandates that at least $8 million is invested in each county.

As the T-WORKS program moves into its middle years, the state has made significant progress in improving road and bridge conditions, expanding transit and multi-modal options, and improving the state’s rail and aviation systems. While the T-WORKS program has allowed for significant modernization and improvements to Kansas’ transportation system, further progress in improving the state’s transportation system is needed to address traffic safety, road and bridge conditions, including those that are locally maintained, and further modernization to support economic growth. Yet the state’s ability to address these challenges could be jeopardized by uncertainty in the future levels of federal transportation funding. In order to fulfill its promise, the T-WORKS program must be coupled with a strong, sustainable source of federal transportation funds.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require staying the course with Kansas’ current transportation program and proceeding with further transportation improvements well through the next decade. The level of local, state and federal funding will be critical in allowing for the continued improvement and modernization of Kansas’ transportation system.

Population and economic growth have placed increased demands on Kansas’ major roads and highways, leading to mounting wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Kansas’ population reached approximately 2.9 million in 2012, a 16 percent increase since 1990, when the state’s population was approximately 2.5 million. Kansas has approximately 2,018,029 million licensed drivers.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Kansas increased 34 percent from 1990 to 2012 – from 22.8 billion VMT in 1990 to 30.6 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Kansas is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, Kansas’ gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 54 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Largely through funding provided by the T-WORKS program, Kansas has been able to improve approximately 8,000 miles of state-maintained roads and highways since 2010.

  • The T-WORKS program allocates approximately $6 billion to highway preservation, modernization and expansion projects throughout Kansas over a 10 year period.
  • Funding provided by the T-WORKS program allowed Kansas to improve 7,714 miles of state-maintained roadway since 2010. Through the second half of the 10-year program, the state plans to make improvements to an additional 5,000 miles of roadways.

A large percentage of urban roads and highways in Kansas are in poor condition. The urban roads in the state which are in poor condition are largely maintained by local governments.

  • Twenty-nine percent of Kansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 25 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Ninety-five percent of the urban roads and highways in Kansas that are in poor condition are maintained by local governments.
  • 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.

Seventeen percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Kansas 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.

  • Ten percent of Kansas’ 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 
  • Ninety-seven percent of the structurally deficient bridges in Kansas are maintained by local governments.
  • The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) in 2014 set aside $10 million to reduce the number of deficient locally-maintained bridges. The additional funding will allow improvements to 77 locally-maintained bridges.
  • Seven percent of Kansas’ 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.
  • Funding provided by the T-WORKS program has allowed the state to repair or replace 559 bridges since 2010.

Kansas’ traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the national average. Improving safety features on the state’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in 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.

  • Between 2008 and 2012, 1,993 people were killed in traffic crashes in Kansas, an average of 399 fatalities per year.
  • Kansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.32 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The traffic fatality rate on Kansas’ non-Interstate rural roads in 2012 was approximately three times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state – 2.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel compared to 0.74.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. It is estimated 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.
  • KDOT maintains a Highway Safety Improvement Program which provides funding for safety improvements including lighting, pavement marking, signage, rail crossings, intersections and rural roads, including the addition of shoulders, widening lanes and improving sight distance.

The efficiency of Kansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to 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, $123.5 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Kansas and another $149.2 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Kansas, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-one percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Kansas are carried by trucks and another 10 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 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 is a critical source of funding for Kansas’ roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Kansas in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.

  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.22 for road improvements in Kansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Many needed projects throughout the state will require significant federal funding in order to proceed. These projects include the reconstruction of mainline US-69 in Kansas City, the completion of the Gateway Project to modernize Kansas’ portion of the highway network in the Kansas City area, the reconstruction and modernization of a portion of I-70 in Topeka, the construction of a bypass around the northwest portion of Wichita connecting US-54 to I-235/K-96, the reconstruction of the I-135/I-235/K-254/K-96 interchange in Wichita, and the construction of highway bypasses around Pratt, Kingman and Pittsburg. A full list of projects threatened by a lack of federal funding can be found in the report’s Appendix.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost Arkansas Motorists Approximately $2 Billion Annually. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Funding Boost

TRIPRoads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Arkansas motorists a total of $2 billion statewide annually due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Arkansas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, “Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that, throughout Arkansas, nearly a third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways are in poor condition. Nearly a quarter of Arkansas’ bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest nationally and the state’s rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

Driving on deficient roads costs the state’s motorists approximately $2 billion per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs statewide and per motorist in Little Rock area is below.

Arkansas 1The TRIP report finds that 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition and 42 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 26 percent are rated good.   The report finds that 23 percent of major locally and state-maintained rural roads in Arkansas are rated in poor condition, 46 percent are rated in mediocre condition or fair condition and the remaining 31percent are rated good.

A total of 23 percent of Arkansas’ bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Seven percent of Arkansas’ bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 16 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-Little Rock“Safe and well-maintained highways are critical to Arkansas’ economic development,” said Commissioner Robert Moore, of the Arkansas Highway Commission. “Poor roads and highways cost Arkansans money and, in some cases, lives. While, on the other hand, adequate funding to improve Arkansas highways creates private-sector jobs, improves our business climate, attracts new business and industry, and keep motorists safe.”

Traffic crashes in Arkansas claimed the lives of 2,849 people between 2008 and 2012. Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.13. Arkansas’ non-Interstate rural roads have a fatality rate in 2012 of 2.71 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than three times the fatality rate of 0.87 on all other roads and highways in the state.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s 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 surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Arkansas. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fees. In July, Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The legislation will also transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.

“These conditions are only going to worsen if greater funding is not made available at the state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Arkansas is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge repair projects, loss of jobs and a burden on the state’s economy.”

ARKANSAS TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in Arkansas

$2 Billion

 

$1,674

 

Driving on deficient roads costs Arkansas residents $2 billion annually statewide. These costs include additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. In the Little Rock urban area, the average driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on deficient roads.
#5 Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the fifth highest in the nation.
5702,849 On average, 570 people were killed annually in Arkansas traffic crashes from 2008 to 2012, a total of 2,849 fatalities over the five year period.
3X The fatality rate on Arkansas’ non-interstate rural roads is more than three that on all other roads in the state (2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.87).
32%23% Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and 23 percent of the state’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition.
23 % A total of 23 percent of Arkansas bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Seven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 16 percent are functionally obsolete.
26 hours The average driver in the Little Rock urban area loses 26 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion.
$102 billion

$112 billion

Annually, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
$1.42

 

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

$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

Arkansas’ 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. Arkansas’ 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.

Deficient roads cost-segments-Arkansas-StatewideAs Arkansas 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 Arkansas’ 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 6.0 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Arkansas 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 Arkansans. Meeting Arkansas’ need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

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 Arkansas.

An inadequate transportation system costs Arkansas residents a total of $2 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Arkansas 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 $2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated that the average Little Rock driver loses $1,674 annually as a result of driving on roads that have deterioration, are congested or lack some desirable safety features.

Arkansas 2

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

  • Arkansas’ population reached approximately 2.9 million in 2012, a 25 percent increase since 1990. Arkansas had 2,199,164 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Arkansas increased by 60 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 21 billion VMT in 1990 to 33.5 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Arkansas is projected to increase by another 30 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, Arkansas’ gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 64 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

A lack of adequate local, state and federal funding has resulted in nearly a third of major urban roads and highways and nearly a quarter of major rural roads and highways in Arkansas having pavement surfaces in poor condition. These deteriorated conditions provide a rough ride and cost motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Thirty-two percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 42 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Twenty-six percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Twenty-three percent of Arkansas’ major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Thirty-one percent are rated in in good condition.
  • More than three-quarters of major urban roads in the Little Rock area are deteriorated. Fifty-three percent of major urban roads in Little Rock are in poor condition and an additional 26 percent are in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major roads in Little Rock are in fair condition and the remaining nine percent are in good condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Arkansas motorists a total of $1.1 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • 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.
  • Driving on rough roads costs each Little Rock area motorist $902 annually per in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Twenty-three percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Arkansas 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.

  • Seven percent of Arkansas’ 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.
  • Sixteen percent of Arkansas’ 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.

Arkansas’ traffic fatality rate is the fifth highest in the nation. Improving safety features on Arkansas’ 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.

  • Between 2008 and 2012 a total of 2,849 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arkansas, an average of 570 fatalities per year.
  • Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.65 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the fifth highest in the nation. The national traffic fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel was 1.13 in 2012.
  • The fatality rate on Arkansas’ rural non-Interstate roads was 2.71 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than three times the 0.87 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.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Arkansas, 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.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Little Rock urban area loses $545 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.
  • The average commuter in the Little Rock urban area wastes 26 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • The increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. The increased levels of congestion can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company to consider expansion or even 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 employees, and higher consumer costs.

The efficiency of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant 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, $102 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Arkansas and another $112 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Arkansas are carried by trucks and another ten 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 one site selection factor in a 2011 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.
  • 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.

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

  • If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • Numerous projects have been completed throughout Arkansas since 2005 that relied heavily on federal funding, including the widening of portions of I-40 and I-540 and the replacement of a US Highway 82 bridge over the Mississippi River in Chicot County. Appendix A details projects completed since 2005 as a result of significant federal transportation funding.
  • From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.42 for road improvements in Arkansas for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has already suspended $60 million in planned construction projects due to the uncertainty of the future status of the Highway Trust Fund. Suspended projects include the replacement of the Highway 70 (Roosevelt Road) bridge and the Remount Road Bridge in Pulaski County, widening of five miles of Highway 167 in Independence County, and widening 1.5 miles of Highway 63 in Lawrence County. Further project suspensions and delays are anticipated until Congress resolves the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Many needed projects in Arkansas will require significant federal transportation funds to proceed, including the Springdale Northern Bypass, construction of a new three-lane arterial to provide a north-south corridor in northwest Arkansas, and the reconstruction of 8.5 miles of I-440 in the Little Rock area. A full list of projects can be found in Appendix B.
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report also found that the current backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements is $740 billion.

Sources of information for this report include the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Wells Fargo Reports: Construction Spending Dips in November

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoTotal construction spending unexpectedly fell 0.3 percent in November due to weakness in nonresidential outlays. Private construction spending rose 0.3 percent during the month, while public declined 1.7 percent.

Looking Beyond the Headline

Total construction spending fell 0.3 percent in November a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $975.0 billion, marking the first decline in five months. Although the headline reading was disappointing, revisions to the two previous months of data were positive. In fact, total construction spending in September was originally reported as a decline, but was revised to a positive reading. Private construction spending eked out a 0.3 percent increase during the month and is up 2.0 percent over the past year. However, public spending posted its third decline in four months, falling 1.7 percent in November. All of the weakness during the month was in nonresidential construction spending.

Private nonresidential construction spending fell 0.3 percent, but the decline comes on the heels of a string of positive readings that started back in July. The largest declines in November were in health care, commercial and office building; however, weakness was also seen in amusement & recreation, religious and lodging outlays. On the other hand, power construction spending rose 2.4 percent in November making the largest contribution to private nonresidential construction spending.

However, reading too much into monthly data can be a bit misleading, especially for construction spending, which tends to have fairly large revisions from month to month. Over the past year, improvement in this space has come from chemical manufacturers, lodging and office construction. All three components registered double-digit gains on a year-ago basis. Overall private nonresidential construction spending was held back during the year by power, health care and communication.

Looking ahead, we expect private nonresidential outlays to continue to see gains, but the recent slide in oil prices could put pressure on energy producers and energy-related construction plans. That said, we could see building plans reignited in other components like retail that have lagged in the recovery as the drop in oil prices boosts discretionary income.

Residential Posts Positive Gains

Total residential spending rose 0.9 percent in November, its third straight monthly gain. The monthly increase was broad based, with even home improvement breaking through its recent string of weakness. All eyes are on single-family, however, as the all-important housing market trudges through its recovery. As the labor market continues to show improvement and wages increase, especially for young adults, we expect the pace of single-family building to pick up this year. The record amount of refinancing and still-tight credit conditions, however, remain the largest obstacles for the housing market.

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