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TRIP Report Identifies Montana’s Top 20 Transportation Challenges And Needed Fixes, Including Deteriorated Roads And Bridges, Congested Roadways And Needed Safety Improvements

TRIPDeficient roads, highways and bridges, and crowded or congested routes are posing mounting challenges to Montana residents, visitors and businesses. A new report released today by TRIP identifies the state’s top 20 transportation challenges, including road and bridge deterioration, inadequate capacity and needed safety improvements.

According to the report, Montana’s Top 20 Transportation Challenges and the Improvements Needed to Address them,” the improvements needed to address these transportation challenges will cost approximately $7.4 billion. However, at this time, funding is only available for $1.2 billion in needed improvements on these corridors, leaving a backlog of nearly $6.2 billion in needed improvements and upgrades.

The following, ranked in order, are Montana’s top transportation challenges. Further details about each challenge can be found in the TRIP report and appendix.

MT 1

“The Montana Chamber knows how important a good infrastructure system is to a strong economy and long-term prosperity,” said Webb Brown, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.  “To have that good system, we must have stable, dependable funding to ensure it.”

According to the TRIP report, in 2012, 29 percent of Montana’s major state and locally maintained urban roads were in poor condition, 37 percent were in mediocre or fair condition, and 33 percent were in good condition. Six percent of Montana’s state and locally maintained rural roads were rated in poor condition in 2012, while 35 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition and 59 percent were rated in good condition.

“With Montana’s public infrastructure so vital to our health, safety, quality of life, and economic vitality, it is critical that all residents be informed regarding its current conditions so appropriate stewardship can be administered,” said Bill Wiegand, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Montana Section. The TRIP report echoes the findings of a report released by ASCE in 2014 examining the condition of Montana’s infrastructure.

Seven percent of Montana’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2013. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 10 percent of Montana’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards or are inadequate to accommodate current traffic levels, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“The trucking industry needs reliable infrastructure for the safe and efficient transportation of goods produces in Montana,” said Barry “Spook” Stang, executive director of the Motor Carriers of Montana.

The state’s traffic fatality rate is among the highest in the nation, and Montana’s rural roads have a particularly high fatality rate. Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.72 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13 and the third highest in the nation. Reducing this fatality rate was identified as the eighth most critical transportation challenge in the state. The fatality rate on Montana’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.4 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than two and a half times the 0.95 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.

Enhancing critical segments of Montana’s transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth. Sustaining Montana’s long-term economic growth and maintaining the state’s high quality of life will require increased investment in expanding the capacity of the state’s transportation system, which will enhance business productivity and support short- and long-term job creation in the state.

“Investing in Montana’s transportation system and addressing these challenges by improving the condition and efficiency of the state’s roads, highways and bridges will be an effective step in boosting the state’s economy, enhancing quality of life and making Montana an attractive place to live, work and visit,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

Montana’s Top 20 Transportation Challenges and

Improvements Needed to Address Them

Executive Summary

            Montana’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. As the backbone of the Treasure State’s economy, Montana’s surface transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic well-being, and is an integral part of what makes Montana an attractive place to live, work and do business.

However, roadway and bridge deterioration, traffic safety concerns, and a lack of adequate capacity on some corridors to support economic development opportunities threaten to stifle economic growth and negatively impact the quality of life of the state’s residents. Due to insufficient transportation funding at the federal, state and local level, Montana faces numerous challenges in providing a road, highway and bridge network that is smooth, well-maintained, as safe as possible, and that affords a level of mobility capable of supporting the state’s economic goals.

Many segments of Montana’s transportation system have significant deterioration, lack some desirable safety features, and do not have adequate capacity to provide reliable mobility needed to support economic development particularly on routes that support the state’s growing energy extraction industry, creating challenges for Montana’s residents, visitors, businesses and state and local governments. This report looks at the condition and use of Montana’s system of roads, highways and bridges and provides information on the state’s top 20 transportation challenges and the improvements needed to address these challenges.

The transportation challenges outlined in this report represent approximately $7.4 billion in needed improvements. However, at this time, only $1.2 billion in funding for improvements for these corridors is available, leaving a backlog of nearly $6.2 billion in needed improvements and upgrades.

As Montana works to build and support a thriving and diverse economy, it will need to modernize its transportation system by improving the physical condition of its roads, highways and bridges, and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility to the state’s residents, visitors and businesses. Making needed improvements to Montana’s roads, highways and bridges would provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by stimulating short and long-term economic growth.

Montana faces significant challenges on many of the state’s most critical transportation routes, including the need to add capacity to support economic development, to improve roadway safety and to address pavement and bridge deterioration.

  • This report identifies the top 20 transportation challenges in the state, including critical sections of the state’s transportation system that have significant pavement deterioration, inadequate capacity, deficient bridges, or that need safety improvements.
  • A lack of adequate transportation funding is the constraining factor in developing and delivering these needed improvements.
  • Addressing the transportation challenges outlined in this report will cost approximately $7.4 billion in needed improvements. However, at this time, funding for only $1.2 billion in needed improvements on these corridors is available, leaving a backlog of nearly $6.2 billion in needed improvements and upgrades.
  • The following, ranked in order, are Montana’s top transportation challenges. Further details about each challenge can be found in the body of the report, as well as the Appendix.

MT 1

Growth in population and vehicle travel has far outstripped the current capacity of Montana’s transportation system. The state’s population and economy will continue to grow, bringing mounting challenges for the existing network of roads and bridges.

  • From 1990 to 2012, Montana’s population increased by 26 percent, from approximately 800,000 residents to approximately one million.
  • From 1990 to 2012, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 43 percent, from approximately 8.3 billion VMT to 11.9 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Montana will increase another 30 percent by 2030.
  • Every year, $22 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Montana and another $38 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Montana, mostly by trucks. Fifty-nine percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Montana are carried by trucks and another nine percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of their deliveries.

Montana’s extensive transportation system has some road and bridge deficiencies, lacks some desirable safety features and experiences severe congestion in key areas. Improvements to the condition and efficiency of the state’s transportation system would enhance quality of life, roadway safety and economic development.

  • The state will need to expand and modernize key roads, highways and bridges to increase mobility and ease traffic congestion, make needed road and bridge repairs, and improve roadway safety.
  • In 2012, 29 percent of Montana’s major state and locally maintained urban roads were in poor condition, 37 percent were in mediocre or fair condition, and 33 percent were in good condition. Six percent of Montana’s state and locally maintained rural roads were rated in poor condition in 2012, while 35 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition and 59 percent were rated in good condition.
  • Seven percent of Montana’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2013. 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, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • In 2013, 10 percent of Montana’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards or are inadequate to accommodate current traffic levels, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • 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. A total of 1,053 people died on Montana’s highways from 2008 through 2012, an average of 211 annually.
  • Montana’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.72 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13 and the third highest in the nation.
  • The fatality rate on Montana’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.4 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, more than two and a half times the 0.95 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.
  • 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.

Transportation projects that improve the efficiency, condition or safety of a highway provide significant economic benefits by reducing transportation delays and costs associated with a deficient transportation system.

  • In the eastern portion of the state, Bakken oil extraction and support activities have resulted in increased overall traffic volumes and considerably higher than usual truck traffic as a percentage of the overall traffic stream. This additional traffic places a high level of stress on roadways, many of which were not originally built to accommodate such heavy traffic volumes and large vehicles.
  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or bridge capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure also provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • 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.

According to a recent national report, improved access as a result of capacity expansions provides numerous regional economic benefits. Those benefits include higher employment rates, higher land value, additional tax revenue, increased intensity of economic activity, increased land prices and additional construction as a result of the intensified use.

The 2012 report, “Interactions Between Transportation Capacity, Economic Systems and Land Use,” prepared by the Strategic Highway Research Program for the Transportation Research Board, reviewed 100 projects, costing a minimum of $10 million, which expanded transportation capacity either to relieve congestion or enhance access.

  • The projects analyzed in the report were completed no later than 2005 and included a wide variety of urban and rural projects, including the expansion or addition of major highways, beltways, connectors, bypasses, bridges, interchanges, industrial access roads, intermodal freight terminals and intermodal passenger terminals.
  •  The expanded capacity provided by the projects resulted in improved access, which resulted in reduced travel-related costs, faster and more reliable travel, greater travel speeds, improved reliability and increased travel volume.
  • The expanded capacity provided by the projects resulted in improved access, which resulted in reduced travel-related costs, faster and more reliable travel, greater travel speeds, improved reliability and increased travel volume.
  • The report found that improved transportation access benefits a region by: enhancing the desirability of an area for living, working or recreating, thus increasing its land value; increasing building construction in a region due to increased desirability for homes and businesses; increasing employment as a result of increased private and commercial land use; and increasing tax revenue as a result of increased property taxes, increased employment and increased consumption, which increases sales tax collection.
  • The report found that benefits of a transportation capacity expansion unfolded over several years and that the extent of the benefits were impacted by other factors including: the presence of complimentary infrastructure such as water, sewer and telecommunications; local land use policy; the local economic and business climate; and whether the expanded capacity was integrated with other public investment and development efforts.
  • For every $1 million spent on urban highway or intermodal expansion, the report estimated that an average of 7.2 local, long-term jobs were created at nearby locations as a result of improved access. An additional 4.4 jobs were created outside the local area, including businesses that supplied local businesses or otherwise benefited from the increased regional economic activity.
  • For every $1 million spent on rural highway or intermodal expansion, the report estimated that an average of 2.9 local, long-term jobs were created at nearby locations as a result of improved access. An additional 1.6 jobs were created outside the local area, including businesses that supplied local businesses or otherwise benefited from the increased regional economic activity.
  • The report found that highway and intermodal capacity projects in urban areas created a greater number of long-term jobs than in rural areas, largely due to the more robust economic environment and greater density in urban communities.

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

  • 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.

Sources of data for this report include the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the American Association of State Highway & Transportation officials (AASHTO, the Strategic Highway Research Program and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

TRIP Reports: Deficient Roadways Cost South Carolina Drivers $3 Billion Annually – As Much As $1,300 Per Motorist.

TRIPDeficient Roadways Cost South Carolina Drivers $3 Billion Annually – As Much As $1,300 Per Motorist. Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Significant Funding Boost

  Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost South Carolina motorists a total of $3 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,300 per driver in some areas – 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 South Carolina, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout South Carolina, 46 percent of major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) are in poor condition, a significant increase from 2008 when 32 percent of the state’s major roads were rated in poor condition. One-fifth of South Carolina’s 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 South Carolina is tied with West Virginia for the highest overall traffic fatality rate in the nation.

Driving on deficient roads costs each South Carolina driver as much as $1,250 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. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in South Carolina’s largest urban areas: Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

South Carolina 1The TRIP report finds that 46 percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) have pavements that were rated in 2014 as being in poor condition, while an additional 38 percent were in fair condition and 16 percent were in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs South Carolina motorists an additional $1.1 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Traffic congestion is worsening throughout the state, costing drivers a total of $775 million annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

“The South Carolina Department of Transportation manages the 41,000 miles of state funded roads with the third lowest motor fuel user fee in the nation. With an estimated additional $1.5 billion needed per year for the next 25 years to “get to good”, they are currently having to do the best they can with what they have,” said Eric Dickey, vice president of Davis & Floyd, Inc. and chairman of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads (SCFOR).

A total of 21 percent of South Carolina’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Eleven percent of South Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional ten 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.

South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.76 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the highest in the nation (tied with West Virginia) and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. Traffic crashes in South Carolina claimed the lives of 4,315 people between 2008 and 2012. The fatality rate on South Carolina’s rural roads was 2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, which is 61 percent higher than the national rural road average of 1.86 fatalities per 100 million miles.

The efficiency and condition of South Carolina’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in South Carolina. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.12 for road improvements in South Carolina for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees. In July 2014 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 get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, 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, South Carolina 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.”

SOUTH CAROLINA TRANSPORTATION BY THE NUMBERS:

 

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Ten Key Transportation Numbers in South Carolina

 

$3 Billion

TRIP estimates that South Carolina 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 $3 Billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and Traffic Crashes.
Charleston – $1,168

Columbia – $1,250

Greenville – $1,248

The annual costs per motorist of driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features in South Carolina’s largest urban areas are: Charleston – $1,168; Columbia – $1,250; Greenville (including Spartanburg and Anderson) – $1,248.
Charleston – 37%

Columbia – 36%

Greenville – 48%

In the Charleston area, 37 percent of major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, Thirty-six percent of major urban roads in the Columbia area are in poor or mediocre condition and 48 percent of major urban roads in the Greenville metro area (including Spartanburg and Anderson) are in poor or mediocre condition.
863 deaths annually

4,315 deaths 2008 – 2012

From 2008 to 2012, an average of 863 people were killed annually in South Carolina traffic crashes, a total of 4,315 fatalities over the five year period.
 

Tied for 1st

 

The fatality rate on South Carolina’s routes is tied for the highest in the nation.   South Carolina’s rural fatality rate is also 61 percent higher than the national average (2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. a 1.86 national average).
 

21 %

As of November, 2014, 21 percent of South Carolina bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Eleven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and ten percent are functionally obsolete.
 

$1.12 return on $1.00

From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.12 for road improvements in South Carolina for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.
 

84 %

Eighty-four percent of goods shipped annually from sites in South Carolina travel by truck.
3,455,931 There are 3,455,931 licensed drivers in South Carolina.
 

46%

32%

Forty-six percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) were rated in poor condition in 2014, a significant increase since 2008 when 32 percent of the state’s major roads and highways were in poor condition.

Executive Summary

 

South Carolina’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 Palmetto State’s economy. South Carolina’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 part of its efforts to retain business, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, South Carolina 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 South Carolina’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.

South Carolina 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 South Carolinians. Meeting South Carolina’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in 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.

An inadequate transportation system costs South Carolina residents a total of $3 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that South Carolina 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 $3 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 South Carolina 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.

South Carolina 2

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

  • South Carolina’s population reached 4.7 million in 2012, a 35 percent increase since 1990. South Carolina had 3,455,931 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Carolina increased by 43 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 34.4 billion VMT in 1990 to 49 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in South Carolina is projected to increase by another 25 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, South Carolina’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 53 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Nearly half of major roads and highways in South Carolina have pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. The share of the state’s major roads in poor condition has increased significantly since 2008.

  • Forty-six percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) have pavements that were rated in 2014 as being in poor condition, while an additional 38 percent were in fair condition and 16 percent were in good condition.
  • In 2008, 32 percent of South Carolina’s major roads and highways (state-maintained Interstate, primary and secondary routes) had pavements in poor condition, while an additional 49 percent were in fair condition and 19 percent were in good condition.
  • In the Charleston urban area, 37 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Twenty-three percent of Charleston’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 40 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Thirty-six percent of major urban roads in the Columbia urban area are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Twenty-two percent of Columbia’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 42 percent are rated in good condition.
  • In the Greenville urban area (which includes Spartanburg and Anderson) 48 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition.   Nineteen percent of Greenville’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 33 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 South Carolina 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.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Charleston motorist $294 annually in extra vehicle operating costs, while the average driver in the Columbia urban area loses $362 each year as a result of driving on deteriorated roads. The average Greenville area motorist spends an extra $405 annually due to driving on rough roads.

As of November 2014, 21 percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in South Carolina 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.

  • Eleven percent of South Carolina’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.
  • Ten percent of South Carolina’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.
  • In the Charleston urban area, 10 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 29 percent are functionally obsolete. Fourteen percent of bridges in the Columbia area are structurally deficient, while 10 percent are functionally obsolete. In the Greenville area (which includes Spartanburg and Anderson), eight percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 14 percent are functionally obsolete.

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

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Charleston urban area loses $647 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Charleston urban area loses 30 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • TTI estimates that the average Columbia-area driver loses $663 annually in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion. The average Columbia commuter loses 30 hours to traffic congestion every year.
  • According to TTI calculations, the average Greenville-area motorists loses $590 each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion. The average Greenville area driver loses 27 hours annually in traffic congestion.

South Carolina shares the highest overall traffic fatality rate in the nation with West Virginia. South Carolina’s traffic fatality rate on rural routes is the second highest in the nation behind Florida. Improving safety features on South Carolina’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 2008 and 2012 a total of 4,315 people were killed in traffic crashes in South Carolina, an average of 863 fatalities per year.
  • South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.76 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 is the highest rate in the nation (along with West Virginia) and is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The fatality rate on South Carolina’s rural roads was 2.99 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012, which is 61 percent higher than the national rural road average of 1.86 fatalities per 100 million miles.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in South Carolina in 2012, in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor, was approximately $1.1 billion.
  • The chart below details the average number of fatalities in each of South Carolina’s largest urban areas from 2010 to 2012 as well as the annual cost of traffic crashes to the average motorist in each area.

Soputh Carollina 3Roadway 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 South Carolina’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. South Carolina is heavily reliant on federal dollars to fund its transportation system.

  • Annually, $156 billion in goods are shipped from sites in South Carolina and another $168 billion in goods are shipped to sites in South Carolina, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-four percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in South Carolina 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.

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

Sources of information for this report include the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 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: Construction Materials Prices Dip in December

CEU2“The U.S. economy has performed handsomely over the past nine months, according to most metrics, and conventional wisdom suggests that it can continue to expand at or above trend rates of growth.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu

PPI December 20142Construction input prices dipped 1.4 percent during the final month of 2014 and are down nearly 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to the Jan. 15 producer price index release from the U.S. Department of Labor. Inputs to nonresidential construction fell even farther, down 1.7 percent for the month and 1.9 percent year over year. December’s report marks the sharpest decline in input prices since late 2008 during the global financial crisis and the fifth consecutive month construction materials prices have failed to rise.

“Without question, financial markets have been unnerved by the recent declines in oil, copper and other commodity prices, although that jitteriness does not necessarily imply a serious economic problem in America,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The fact is the U.S. economy has performed handsomely over the past nine months, according to most metrics, and conventional wisdom suggests that it can continue to expand at or above trend rates of growth despite economic weakening in Europe, China and elsewhere. This is further evidenced by the World Bank’s recent downgrade of its forecasts for global growth in 2015 and 2016, while it upgraded its outlook for the United States.

“Overall, the view that U.S. domestic demand for construction services and most other services continues to expand is consistent with the fact that some domestically produced and consumed materials actually registered price increases last month,” said Basu. “Note that concrete prices are up by 5 percent on a year-over-year basis while natural gas prices are up by 10 percent.”

The following materials prices increased in December.

  • Prices for plumbing fixtures expanded 0.1 percent in December and are up 3.1 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Concrete products prices expanded 0.7 percent in December and are up 5 percent on a yearly basis.
  • Natural gas prices expanded 19.7 percent in December and are 10 percent higher than one year ago.
  • Fabricated structural metal product prices grew 0.3 for the month and have expanded 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Seven of the 11 key construction inputs did not experience price increases for the month.

  • Iron and steel prices fell 1 percent in December and are down 3.9 percent from the same time last year.
  • Nonferrous wire and cable prices fell 1.6 percent on a monthly basis and 1.5 percent on a yearly basis.
  • Prices for prepared asphalt, tar roofing, and siding fell 1 percent for the month but are up 1.9 percent on a year-ago basis.
  • Steel mill products prices fell 1.3 percent for the month but are 0.4 percent higher than one year ago.
  • Softwood lumber prices fell 1.3 percent in December but are 0.3 percent higher than one year ago.
  • Crude petroleum prices fell 18.9 percent in December and are down 37.1 percent from the same time last year.
  • Crude energy materials prices fell 4.7 percent in December but are 19.6 percent lower year-over-year.

To view the previous PPI report, click here.

Wells Fargo Reports: Regional Effects of the Oil Price Slump

Wells_Fargo_Securities_logoOil- and gas-related businesses are cutting capital budgets and implementing layoffs in the face of the continued slide in oil prices. The bulk of the burden is falling on just a handful of states.

The ongoing fall in oil prices will hurt domestic producers squeeze their profits and reduce their capital spending and exploration efforts. Producers are not the only ones who will feel the squeeze. The decline in capital spending and exploration will also hurt support businesses, manufacturers of related equipment, and possibly spill over to firms that build pipelines, transport oil and sell the commodity. Weakness in the domestic oil and gas industry has contributed to a downward adjustment of our forecast for business fixed investment for the first quarter of 2015. The sharp pullback in oil- and gas-related investment and employment will largely be concentrated in energy producing states, while the benefits of cheaper gas will be more equitably divided among the entire nation.

In dollar terms, Texas is likely to suffer the largest loss. The Lone Star State has by far the largest number of workers in each of the oil- and gas-related industries. However, it does not have the highest concentration of those workers as the state is relatively large and diverse economically. In Texas, only 2.6 percent of workers are employed in oil and gas extraction, drilling oil and gas wells and support activities for oil and gas wells. By contrast, 6.0 percent of North Dakota’s workers are employed in those three industries, while 5.8 percent of workers in Wyoming are concentrated there. Moreover, Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana all have a higher concentration of oil and gas workers than Texas. Support for oil and gas operations has been the largest and the fastest growing oil-related industry in the U.S. by employment. As spending cuts become more evident in the data, this industry will significantly restrain job growth in many of these states.

The pain of capital spending cuts will reach beyond those in the business of extracting oil. Oil and gas machinery manufacturers will feel the squeeze of reduced demand. Employment data on this industry are not available for several states, including Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana and Alaska; however, nearly 80 percent of all workers in the industry are employed in either Texas or Oklahoma.

The construction of oil and gas pipelines, pipeline transportation and petroleum wholesalers could also be at risk, though cuts to these industries are unlikely to be severe if the momentum in oil production does not slow this year. Pipeline construction is most heavily concentrated in Wyoming and North Dakota, with a slightly smaller concentration in Louisiana. Wholesalers and pipeline transportation are relatively small employers, but still account for a sizable share of the workforce in Wyoming, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

 

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AEM statement on Senate’s Keystone XL Pipeline vote

Secretary is Dennis Slater, AEM’s full-time President, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Secretary is Dennis Slater, AEM’s full-time President, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), released the following statement following the Senate’s vote on Monday to take up legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline:

“I want to thank members of Congress – again – for their bipartisan vote in favor of finally building the Keystone XL Pipeline. President Obama, it’s time to stop being an obstacle to this commonsense, job-creating project.

“Today’s Senate vote shows that the debate over Keystone is over everywhere but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Both the American public and their elected representatives resoundingly support this important piece of energy infrastructure, and any remaining legal obstacles to the pipeline’s construction fell with last week’s decision by Nebraska’s Supreme Court.

“President Obama should reconsider his ill-conceived threat to veto the legislation that will soon be sent to him by Congress, and stop playing politics with our nation’s energy infrastructure.”