WEST VIRGINIA TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:
Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility
Ten Key Transportation Numbers in West Virginia
|Driving on deficient roads costs West Virginia motorists a total of $1.4 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.|
|TRIP estimates that driving on rough roads costs the average West Virginia motorists an average of $647 annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.|
|A total of 1,548 people were killed in West Virginia traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 310 fatalities annually.|
|West Virginia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2015 was significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.|
|3X||The fatality rate on West Virginia’s rural roads is nearly three times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state (2.24 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 0.81).|
|Statewide, 29 percent of West Virginia’s major roads are in poor condition. Fifty-five percent are in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 17 percent are in good condition.|
|$119 Billion||Annually, $119 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in West Virginia, mostly by truck.|
|A total of 17 percent of West Virginia bridges show significant deterioration and are rated as structurally deficient. West Virginia ranks 5th nationally in its share of bridges rated structurally deficient. This is up from 2015 when 15% percent were structurally deficient – the 8th highest share in the U.S. at the time.|
|From 2000 to 2015, West Virginia’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 16 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.|
$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.|
Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, West Virginia’s economy continues to struggle. The rate of economic growth in West Virginia, 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 Mountain 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 natural resource extraction, manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology and tourism, the quality of West Virginia’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 West Virginia as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining 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 WEST VIRGINIA MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS
An inadequate transportation system costs West Virginia motorists a total of $1.4 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
- Driving on rough roads costs West Virginia motorists a total of $758 million 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 costs West Virginia motorists a total of $461 million each year in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
- Traffic congestion costs West Virginia motorists a total of $225 million 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 and statewide.
POPULATION AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN WEST VIRGINIA
The rate of population growth in West Virginia has 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 in 2015 was approximately 1.84 million residents.
- West Virginia had 1.2 million licensed drivers in 2015.
- In 2015, West Virginia’s roads carried 19.5 billion vehicle miles of travel.
- From 2000 to 2015, West Virginia’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 16 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.
WEST VIRGINIA ROAD CONDITIONS
A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in 29 percent of major roads and highways in West Virginia 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 West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) 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.
- Twenty-nine percent of West Virginia’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition, while 55 percent are in mediocre or fair condition. The remaining 17 percent are in good condition.
- The chart below details the share of major roads in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in West Virginia’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 West Virginia motorists a total of $758 million annually — $647 per driver — in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
WEST VIRGINIA BRIDGE CONDITIONS
Approximately one in six of locally and state-maintained bridges in West Virginia show significant deterioration. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.
- Seventeen percent of West Virginia’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, the 5th highest share nationally. This is up from 2015 when 15 percent of the state’s bridges were structurally deficient, the 8th highest share in the nation at that time. In 2014, 13 percent of the state’s bridges were structurally deficient, the 12th highest share at the time.
- 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 the share of bridges in the state’s largest urban areas that are structurally deficient.
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN WEST VIRGINIA
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. 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 1,548 people were killed in West Virginia traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 310 fatalities per year.
- West Virginia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2015 was significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
- The fatality rate on West Virginia’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly three times higher than on all other roads in the state (2.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.81).
- The chart below details the average number of people killed in traffic fatalities in the state’s largest urban areas over the last three years.
- Traffic crashes in West Virginia imposed a total of $1.4 billion in economic costs in 2014. TRIP estimates that traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor imposed $461 million in economic costs in 2014.
- According to a 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the economic costs of traffic crashes includes work and household productivity losses, property damage, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs, congestion costs and emergency services.
- 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.
WEST VIRGINIA TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in West Virginia, 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.
- Based on Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) estimates, the value of lost time and wasted fuel in West Virginia is approximately $225 million per year.
- The chart below details the annual number of hours lost to congestion and the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of congestion for the average driver in each of the state’s largest urban areas.
- 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 WEST VIRGINIA
Investment in West Virginia’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. The 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 WEST VIRGINIA
The efficiency of West Virginia’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, $119 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in West Virginia, mostly by truck.
- Seventy-two percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in West Virginia are carried by trucks and another 10 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).