Tag Archive for 'Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'

U.S. Department of Transportation Urges Drivers to Stay Alert While Driving Near Nation’s Highway Work Zones

UnknownThe U.S. Department of Transportation today kicked off National Work Zone Awareness Week as construction season approaches. Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau joined state and federal officials at the Washington Boulevard Bridge over Columbia Pike in Arlington, Va., to urge drivers to stay alert when driving near highway workers. They were joined by workers and families affected by work zone crashes.

This year’s theme, “Expect the Unexpected,” emphasizes the need for drivers to constantly be prepared for changes such as reduced speed limits; narrowed, shifted or closed lanes; and people who may be working on or near the road.  In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 579 fatalities in work zones, a small decrease from 617 fatalities the previous year.

“As the temperatures climb, thousands of highway workers nationwide are heading back to work to improve America’s roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “To keep them safe, we owe them our full attention when driving through work zones, so please avoid distractions like cellphones and obey posted speed limits.”

National Work Zone Awareness Week, sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials at the beginning of construction season each spring, raises awareness of safety measures taken on roads all over the country. Typically, work zone crashes occur when drivers fail to obey posted speed limits, fail to adapt to changing road conditions, or use cellphones while driving.

FHWA works with state and local transportation officials to promote improvements in work zone planning and design, increased law enforcement near work zones, enhanced worker training and heightened awareness among drivers. Since 2005, FHWA has awarded nearly $33 million in grants to promote work zone safety training and the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

In 2013, speed was a factor in 23 percent of fatal work zone crashes. Two out of three victims in work zone crashes in 2013 were drivers and passengers of vehicles.

During the ceremony, Nadeau paid tribute to the 132 Virginia Department of Transportation employees who died in highway work zones since 1928.

“When driving through work zones, be respectful of highway workers and their workplace by slowing down,” said Deputy Administrator Nadeau. “Following the rules of the roadway makes it easier to expect the unexpected.”

Like the FHWA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works with other USDOT agencies to reduce work zone crashes through grants to states and research on driver behavior. FMCSA has made work zone safety a national priority in its commercial vehicle safety plans, and partners with the International Association of Chiefs of Police in its “Drive to Save Lives” campaign to encourage all law enforcement to stop trucks and buses when they are seen operating unsafely.

“In 2013, large trucks and buses were involved in 186 work zone crashes that resulted in fatalities,” said FMCSA Chief Counsel Scott Darling. “Tragedies like these can be avoided by paying attention, slowing down, carefully obeying signs and the direction of flagmen, maintaining a safe distance between vehicles, avoiding distractions and always keeping safety the number one priority.”

For more information on this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm

TRIP Report Identifies Top Transportation Improvements Needed To Support Utah’s Economic Growth, Including Projects To Address Deteriorated And Congested Roadways, Deficient Bridges, Inadequate Transit, And To Provide Needed Safety Improvements

TRIPTransportation improvements are needed in Utah to address deficient, crowded or congested roads, highways, bridges and transit systems in Utah that threaten to stifle the state’s economic growth and development. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

The report, Utah’s Most Critical Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life,” identifies the transportation improvements most needed to support economic growth and quality of life in Utah. These improvements include projects to build, expand or modernize highways or bridges, as well as improvements and capacity expansion to the state’s rail and public transportation systems. Making these needed transportation improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, improving safety, and making Utah an attractive place to live, visit and do business. A lack of adequate transportation funding is the constraining factor in developing and delivering these needed improvements.

The most needed transportation improvements to support economic growth in the Wasatch Front area, as identified by the TRIP report, are as follows. Additional information about each project can be found in the report.

UTAH 1The TRIP report also identifies the most needed improvements in Central Utah, the Provo/Orem/Mountainland Region, and Southern Utah. Additional information about each project can be found in the report.

UTAH 2According to the TRIP report, eight percent of Utah’s major urban roads are in poor condition, while nine percent of the state’s rural roads are in poor condition. Three percent of bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 11 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan identifies the comprehensive investments in state and local roads, transit and bike projects needed across Utah,” said Andrew Gruber, Executive Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council. “If funded, the $11.3 billion shortfall identified for our critical transportation projects will support our growing economy, improve our air quality and enhance our overall quality of life.”

According to Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, the state will need a total of $70.1 billion over the next 30 years to fund needed highway and transit maintenance, operations, preservation and capacity expansions. However, during that time, only $43.4 billion will be available from current revenue sources, leaving a funding gap which includes $11.3 billion in prioritized transportation improvements that remain unfunded over the next 30 years.

Enhancing critical segments of Utah’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 the 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 Utah’s long-term economic growth and maintaining the state’s 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 Utah’s transportation system and addressing these challenges by improving the condition and efficiency of the state’s roads, bridges and transit systems will be an effective step in boosting the state’s economy, enhancing quality of life and making Utah an attractive place to live, work and visit,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

Utah’s Most Critical Surface Transportation

Projects to Support Economic Growth and

Quality of Life

Executive Summary

Utah’s transportation system has played a significant role in the state’s development, providing mobility and access for residents, visitors, businesses and industry. The state’s roads, highways, rails and public transit systems remain the backbone of the Beehive State’s economy. Utah’s transportation system also provides for a high quality of life and makes the state a desirable place to live, work and visit. The condition and quality of its transportation system will play a critical role in Utah’s ability to continue to recover from the recession, capitalize on its economic advantages and meet the mobility demands of the 21st Century.

To achieve sustainable economic growth, Utah must proceed with numerous projects to improve key roads, bridges and public transit systems. Enhancing critical segments of Utah’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 the 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.

In this report, TRIP examines recent transportation and economic trends in Utah and provides information on the transportation projects in the state that are most needed to support economic growth. Sources of data include the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), the Mountainland Association of Regional Governments, the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Association, the Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available. 

TRIP has identified the highway and transit projects that are most needed to support Utah’s economic growth. These projects are located throughout the state.

  • The most needed Utah transportation improvements include projects to build, expand or modernize highways or bridges, as well as improvements and capacity expansion to the state’s rail and public transportation systems. These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Utah an attractive place to live, visit and do business.
  • TRIP identified and evaluated each transportation project based on a the following criteria: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and, the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.
  • The most needed transportation projects, as identified by TRIP, have been broken down geographically and are listed below.

WASATCH FRONT

  • Construction of the SR-85/Mountain View Corridor. This $1.3 billion project would provide six to eight lanes of new capacity over approximately 30 miles of roadway, providing for a continuous North-South freeway through the entire Salt Lake Valley and another freeway link into Utah County. The new route will help alleviate the highest volume areas of I-15, which are frequently congested and have limited options for widening.
  • Adding Two General Purpose Lanes on I-15 in Box Elder and Weber Counties. This $195 million project would add two general purpose lanes along nearly 13 miles of I-15, from the Box Elder County Line to Brigham City South Interchange, and from 2700 North to the Box Elder County Line. This portion of I-15 experiences heavy truck traffic and is the primary link between the Wasatch Front and the Northwest. Additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters.
  • Widening and Reconstruction of SR-201 in Salt Lake County. This $103 million project would widen and reconstruct approximately 18 miles of SR-201 from I-80 to Mountain View. SR-201 is a major freeway through the freight and warehousing district of Salt Lake City. Increasing congestion has slowed the flow of freight, goods and commuters.
  • Bus System Optimization. Significant new bus improvements are planned. Currently UTA only operates 12 all day high frequency bus corridors. Under the Bus System Optimization Project UTA would provide an expanded high frequency network, 10 additional routes with a total of 128 route miles. As part of the project enhance stops and customer waiting areas would be developed. Buses would run every 15 minutes with the same schedule as the regional rail system at a total cost of $256 million. Additionally, UTA needs a new alternative fuels bus garage, which would cost $80 million as well as 3 CNG maintenance facilities at a cost of $10 million each and to replace existing buses and expand the fleet which could total over 900 buses over 5 years. Total cost for all improvements is estimated at $366 million.
  • Widening and Reconstruction of I-15 in Davis County. This $91 million project would widen and reconstruct 11 miles of I-15 from US-89 to I-215. This portion of I-15 experiences heavy commuter traffic. Due to geographic constraints, the construction of parallel corridors is unlikely. Additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters.
  • Commuter Rail (FrontRunner) Community Connection Projects. With the addition of the Utah County segment ridership has increased significantly. The following projects are needed to further connect the system: Ogden Streetcar project to connect from the Ogden Intermodal Hub to Weber State University; South Davis – this Bus Rapid Transit project would connect from the Woodscross Commuter Rail Station to North Temple Commuter/Light Rail Transit station and Downtown Salt Lake City; the Salt Lake City Streetcar project, which would provide a streetcar connection between the intermodal center and downtown; the Murray Taylorsville Bus Rapid Transit route from Murray Central Station to the Main Salt Lake Community College Campus; the Sandy South Jordan Circulator Project to connect the South Jordan Commuter Rail station to TRAX Light Rail, as well as significant employment and residential areas in the two cities and the Southwest Salt Lake County project, which would extend the Redline Light Rail line to Draper Commuter Rail Station and the Blue Line in Draper. The total estimated cost for these projects is: $1.46 billion.
  • Widening and Reconstruction of Portions of State Route 108 in Weber and Davis Counties. This $122 million project would widen and reconstruct approximately six miles of State Route 108 from Midland Drive in Weber County to approximately four miles west of the Weber County/Davis County line. The widening of State Route 108, which is a major North/South roadway in the area is needed to aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters in the rapidly growing Western Davis County area.
  • New I-15 Interchanges at 1800N and Shepard Lane. These projects, totaling $109 million, would add two new interchanges to address the high traffic volumes on I-15 and provide improved access to Davis County. The new interchanges will alleviate congestion at adjacent interchanges and improve access to I-15 for Falcon Hill and other developments in the area.
  • Widening and Reconstruction of I-15 near Hill Air Force Base. These projects, totaling $91 million, would widen and reconstruct two sections of I-15: from I-84 to the Davis County Line, and from the Weber County Line to Hill Field Road. Along with servicing heavy commuter traffic, this portion of I-15 is adjacent to Hill Air Force Base, a site planned for major economic development. The additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters while improving access to Hill Air Force Base.
  • Electrification and Double Tracking of Commuter Rail First Phase. This $600 million project would allow for double tracking and electrification on the commuter rail line, enabling UTA to operate the commuter rail line much more reliably and provide the capability to offer more frequent service. The project will also enable UTA to move from diesel to electrical power, thereby reducing direct emissions in the urban area.

CENTRAL UTAH

  • Adding Uphill Passing Lanes to US-40. This $108 million project would add uphill passing lanes to more than 96 miles of US-40 in Duchesne, Uinath, and Wasatch Counties. US-40 is a major regional connector to the Wasatch Back and Eastern Utah and serves high percentages of recreational and freight traffic. Passing lanes will help slow-moving trucks to traverse steep grades with less interference to traffic flow.
  • Adding Uphill Passing Lanes to US-191. This $58 million project would add 38 miles of passing lanes to US-191 in Duchesne, Uinath and Dagget Counties. These portions of US-191 provide access to important energy and tourism areas in the Uinath Basin. Passing lanes will help slow-moving trucks to traverse steep grades with less interference to traffic flow.
  • Interchange Improvements and a New Interchange at Kimball Junction. This $50 million project would construct a new interchange and improve the existing interchange at Kimball Junction, which is a gateway into the major tourist destination of Park City. Severe congestion already occurs on peak ski days and there is strong employment growth in the area. Increased interchange capacity will allow for better access to Park City for tourists and commuters.
  • Adding Two General Purpose Lanes to a portion of I-80. This $161 million project would add two general purpose lanes to nearly seven miles of I-80 from milepost 99 to 106. This portion of I-80 experiences heavy truck traffic and is the primary link between the Wasatch Front and the Pacific coast. Additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters.
  • Adding Two General Purpose or HOV Lanes to SR-248 in Park City. This $11 million project would add two general purpose or HOV lanes to SR-248. This route is the main gateway into Park City and experiences severe congestion on peak ski days. The additional lanes will allow for better access to Park City for tourists and commuters.

PROVO/OREM/MOUNTAINLAND REGION

  • Utah County Bus Improvements. 32 miles of Bus Rapid Transit and Bus Plus improvement are needed in Utah County to improve regional transit service. The total cost of the needed improvements is estimated at $127 million.
  • Adding a new HOV interchange at I-15 and 800 S. This $93 million project would construct a new HOV interchange at I-15 and 800 S, relieving congestion and allowing for better access to Utah Valley University and the future Orem Intermodal Center.
  • Bus Rapid Transit in Provo. This $150 million project would provide new bus rapid transit service that would allow for transit connections from commuter rail to major destinations in the Provo/Orem area, including Brigham Young University.
  • SR-75 Widening and Reconstruction in Springville. This $36 million project would widen and reconstruct parts of SR 75 from I-15 to Main Street in in Springville. These routes service a major industrial area in northern Springville. The additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters in the area.
  • Draper to Orem Light Rail Line. This $1.5 billion project would extend the existing light rail line from Draper into Utah County.
  • Widening and Reconstruction of Portion of U.S. 89 in Utah County. This $7 million project would widen and reconstruct a 2.2 mile portion of U.S. 89 from American Fork Main Street to Lehigh Main. U.S. 89 (State Street) is one of the most congested roads in northern Utah. The widening and reconstruction of this section of U.S. 89 would improve the movement of freight, goods and commuters through this corridor.

WASHINGTON COUNTY / DIXIE METROPOLITAN PLANNING ASSOCIATION/ SOUTHERN UTAH

  • Adding New Capacity to the Western Corridor in Washington County. This $92.5 million project would add new capacity to the Western Corridor from Old Highway 91 to Snow Canyon Parkway, and from MP 2 to Old Highway 91. The Western Corridor has been planned to help meet the transportation needs of the rapidly growing St. George area. This corridor will link the Santa Clara area to I-15 and provide service to large developable areas.
  • Widening and reconstructing Segments of I-15 in Washington County. This $133 million project would widen and reconstruct four portions of I-15 in Washington County. Southern Utah is one of the fastest growing areas of the state. I-15 is the primary corridor for movement within the area and services freight flow from the Pacific coast. Additional capacity will aid the flow of freight, goods and commuters.
  • Complete the New Southern Parkway in St. This $49 million project would construct a new four-lane freeway from Warner Valley Road to Washington Dam Road. When all phases are completed, the new freeway will link St. George to Hurricane and provide service to the new airport and developable areas.
  • Adding Uphill Passing Lanes to Three Sections of I-15. These projects, totaling $72 million, would add uphill passing lanes to three sections of I-15 in Millard, Beaver and Iron Counties. The steep grades on I-15 in central Utah contribute to slower truck speeds. Passing lanes will help slow-moving trucks to traverse steep grades with less interference to traffic flow.
  • Intersection Improvements on SR-18 in Washington County. This $18.5 million project would improve key intersections on SR-18, which provides key access between St. George and rapidly growing areas of Santa Clara and Ivins. These intersection improvements will help eliminate traffic bottlenecks and improve corridor progression on SR-18.

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

  • 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.
  • The creation of both short-term and long-term jobs.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or transit 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 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.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 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.

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 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 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.

While Utah’s diverse economy has been impacted by the recession, the state’s transportation system will need to accommodate projected future growth.

  • From 1990 to 2013, Utah’s population increased by 68 percent, from approximately 1.8 million to approximately 2.9 million. Utah’s population is expected to increase to 4.4 million by 2030.
  • From 1990 to 2013, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 84 percent, from approximately 14.6 billion VMT to 27 billion VMT. This was the second highest increase in the nation during this timeframe. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Utah will increase another 40 percent by 2030.
  • Utah has benefited from a diverse economy, which includes significant employment in the following sectors: mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, information technology, finance and petroleum production.
  • Every year, approximately $107 billion in goods are shipped annually from sites in Utah and another $102 billion in goods are shipped annually to sites in Utah, mostly by truck. 
  • Sixty percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Utah are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of the deliveries.

Utah’s economy is served by an extensive surface transportation system that has some deficiencies that will need to be addressed in the coming years. However, over the next 30 years, the state will face a transportation funding shortfall of nearly $27 billion in funds needed for roadway and transit operations, maintenance, expansion and preservation.

  • Utah’s system of 45,124 miles of roads and 2,946 bridges, maintained by local, state and federal governments, carry 27 billion vehicle miles of travel annually.
  • Eight percent of Utah’s major urban state and locally maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition. Fifty-one percent of the state’s urban roads are rated as either mediocre or fair and the remaining 41 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Nine percent of Utah’s major rural state and locally maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition. Fifty-four percent of the state’s rural roads are rated as either mediocre or fair and the remaining 37 percent are rated in good condition.
  • As Utah’s roads and highways continue to age, they will reach a point where routine paving and maintenance will not be adequate to keep pavement surfaces in good condition and costly reconstruction of the roadway and its underlying surfaces will become necessary.
  • Investing in lower-cost, routine roadway repairs and preservation can extend the life of Utah’s roadways and prevent or postpone more costly repairs and reconstruction. It is critical that roads are fixed before they require major repairs because reconstructing roads costs approximately four times more than resurfacing them.
  • Three percent of Utah’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2014. 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 2014, 11 percent of Utah’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • It is estimated that UTA will spend up to $10.5 billion to operate transit service over the next 30 years.
  • UTA has identified $2.9 billion in future state of good repairs over the next 30 years. State of good repair projects include replacement of light rail and commuter rail rolling stock and track and facilities replacement and upgrades.
  • According to Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, the state will need a total of $70.1 billion over the next 30 years to fund needed highway and transit maintenance, operations, preservation and capacity expansions. However, during that time, only $43.4 billion will be available from current revenue sources, leaving a funding gap which includes $11.3 billion in prioritized transportation improvements that remain unfunded over the next 30 years.

State and local transportation agencies are increasingly taking an approach to road, highway, transit infrastructure and bridge preservation that emphasizes enhanced maintenance techniques that keep infrastructure in good condition as long as possible, delaying the need for costly reconstruction or replacement.

  • Under pressure from fiscal constraints, aging roads, highways and bridges, and increased wear due to growing travel volume, particularly by large trucks, transportation agencies are adopting cost-effective strategies focused on maintaining roads, highways and bridges in good condition as long as possible. While this strategy requires increased initial investment, it saves money over the long run by extending the lifespan of transportation
  • UTA has developed a sophisticated assets management system to better understand maintenance needs. With a comprehensive inventory of all assets and conditions UTA can provide better maintenance to ensure the longest possible life of assets and provide the best service to customers.
  • It is critical that roads are fixed before they require major repairs because reconstructing roads costs approximately four times more than resurfacing them.
  • A 2010 Federal Highway Administration report found that an over-reliance on short-term pavement repairs will fail to provide the long-term structural integrity needed in a roadway surface to guarantee the future performance of a paved road or highway.
  • The Federal Highway Administration report also warned that transportation agencies that focus only on current pavement surface conditions will eventually face a highway network with an overwhelming backlog of pavement rehabilitation and replacement needs.
  • Preventive pavement maintenance treatments include sealing a road surface to prevent moisture from entering cracks in the pavement, applying thin pavement overlays, correcting small surface irregularities and improving surface drainage and friction.
  • A preventive maintenance approach to keeping pavements in good condition has been found to reduce overall pavement life cycle costs by approximately one-third over a 25-year period.
  • At a 2011 national bridge preservation conference called “Beyond the Short Term,” hosted by the Federal Highway Administration, the 350 attendees from transportation agencies and private firms voted that the most important lesson they had learned at the meetings was that bridges should be actively managed so that they remain in sound condition for as long as possible.
  • Improvements in bridge inspections, materials and construction techniques are allowing transportation agencies to move increasingly from a worst-first approach to bridge preservation to a more systematic, proactive strategy of preventive maintenance and preservation.
  • Road, highway and bridge preservation projects provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carrying abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses.   Road, highway and bridge repairs also extend the service life of a road, highway or bridge, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.

Sources of data include the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the Mountainland Association of Regional Governments, the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Association, the Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

TRIP Reports: South Dakota’s Transportation System Faces Numerous Challenges Including Deteriorated Roads And Bridges, High Rates Of Rural Fatalities, Increasingly Crowded Roads, And A Lack Of Adequate Funding, Which Could Stifle Economic Development Opportunities And Lead To Increasing Deterioration

South Dakota’s transportation system faces mounting challenges in the form of deteriorated roads and bridges, high rates of rural traffic fatalities, increasingly crowded roads, stifled economic development, and TRIPinsufficient funding.  Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, increase roadway efficiency and support long-term economic growth in South Dakota, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, South Dakota’s Top Transportation Challenges: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that pavement conditions on state-maintained roads are projected to deteriorate significantly over the next decade. The report also finds that approximately one quarter of South Dakota’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, the state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested and the fatality rate on South Dakota’s roads is significantly higher than the national average.

Currently, two percent of state-maintained roads and highways in South Dakota are in poor condition, while nine percent are in fair condition and 89 percent are in good or excellent condition. However, by 2024, under current funding levels, the share of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to rise to 25 percent. Thirty-nine percent of county-maintained roads in South Dakota are in failing or in poor condition, while 28 percent of township-maintained roads are either closed or in poor condition. To maintain pavement conditions at their current level, South Dakota municipal and township governments would have to increase their annual road and highway investment by 46 percent. Making significant improvements in road and bridge conditions would require a doubling of current investment. Driving on rough roads costs all South Dakota motorists a total of $206 million each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Roads, bridges and highways are essential for business to operate and are a basic function of government,” said Evan Nolte, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. “This report brings a sharp focus on the needs and will be invaluable in helping seek policies that will keep South Dakota’s infrastructure strong.”

South Dakota’s bridges are also increasingly deteriorated. Twenty percent of South Dakota’s bridges are structurally deficient, the fourth highest share in the nation. Structurally deficient bridges have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. These bridges are often posted for lower weights or closed to traffic restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency response vehicles. An additional four percent of South Dakota’s locally and state-maintained bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. At the current rate of transportation funding, it will take 40 years to replace the state’s county bridges that are currently in need of replacement.

Traffic crashes in South Dakota claimed the lives of 650 people between 2009 and 2013, an average of 130 fatalities each year. The state’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.09. South Dakota’s rural non-Interstate roads have significantly higher rates of fatal crashes, with a traffic fatality rate of 2.19 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than two-and-a-half times the 0.80 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.  Each year, South Dakota motorists lose $164 million in the form of financial costs due to traffic crashes, including insurance costs and lost household productivity.

The efficiency and condition of South Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $27 billion in goods are shipped from sites in South Dakota and another $28 billion in goods are shipped to sites in South Dakota, mostly by truck.

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.

 “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 Dakota is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge improvements, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”

SOUTH DAKOTA’S TOP TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Executive Summary

                  South Dakota’s extensive system of roads, bridges and highways provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility, while acting as the backbone that supports the state’s economy. South Dakota’s 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 businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

                  However, the state faces numerous challenges in providing a transportation system that is safe, well-maintained, efficient and adequately funded. As South Dakota works to retain its quality of life, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to preserve, 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 Dakota’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 Dakota 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 residents.  Meeting South Dakota’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.               

The federal government is a critical source of funding for South Dakota’s surface transportation system.  In July, Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), which provides states with road, highway, bridge and transit funding through May 31, 2015.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated Pavement Conditions

While state-maintained roads and highways are currently in good condition, at current funding levels they will deteriorate significantly over the next decade, falling into a state of disrepair similar to locally maintained roads and highways in the state.

·      State-maintained roads and highways in South Dakota account for 9.5 percent of total mileage, but carry 67 percent of vehicle miles of travel and 81 percent of travel by large trucks.

·      Two percent of state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, nine percent are in fair condition and 89 percent are in good or excellent condition.

·      In 2024, under current funding levels, 25 percent of state-maintained roads and highways will have pavements in poor condition, 27 percent will be in fair condition and 48 percent will be in good or excellent condition.

·      Thirty-nine percent of county-maintained roads in South Dakota are in failing or poor condition, 32 percent are in fair condition and 30 percent are in good and excellent condition.

·      Twenty-eight percent of township-maintained roads in South Dakota are either closed or in poor condition, 25 percent are in fair condition and 47 percent are in good or excellent 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.
  •  Driving on rough roads costs all South Dakota motorists a total of $206 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC). Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Large Share of Deficient Bridges

Approximately a quarter of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) in South Dakota show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

·      Twenty percent of South Dakota’s bridges are structurally deficient, the fourth highest share in the nation. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.

·      Twenty-eight percent of bridges in South Dakota (20 feet or longer) are state-maintained and 72 percent are maintained by local governments.

     A significantly greater share of locally-maintained bridges — 28 percent — are structurally deficient than are state-maintained bridges – five percent.

     The current backlog to replace the 1,045 county-maintained bridges in need of replacement is $240 million.

  •      Four percent of South Dakota’s locally and state-maintained 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.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: High Traffic Fatality Rates

Improving safety features on South Dakota’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 2009 and 2013 a total of 650 people were killed in traffic crashes in South Dakota, an average of 130 fatalities per year.
  • South Dakota’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.09. 
  •  The fatality rate on South Dakota’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.19 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, more than two-and-a-half times higher than the 0.80 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state. 

·      The annual cost of serious traffic crashes in South Dakota, in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $164 million.  These costs include medical costs, lost economic and household productivity, property damage and travel delays.

·      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.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: State’s Economic Growth Threatened by Deteriorated Roads, Lack of Adequate Highways

The efficiency of South Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Increased deterioration of South Dakota’s roads and bridges and the lack of needed transportation improvements to serve economic development threaten the state’s economic vitality.  New research indicates that the cost of making needed road, highway, and bridge improvements is far less than the potential loss in state economic activity caused by a lack of adequate road, highway and bridge preservation.

·      South Dakota’s key economic sectors — agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, mining, finances and health care — are highly reliant on an efficient and well-maintained transportation system.

·      South Dakota’s population reached approximately 845,000 in 2013, a 21 percent increase since 1990. South Dakota had 606,779 licensed drivers in 2012.

·      Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Dakota increased by 31 percent from 1990 to 2013 – from 7 billion VMT in 1990 to 9.1 billion VMT in 2013. By 2030, vehicle travel in South Dakota is projected to increase by another 20 percent.

·      From 1990 to 2013, South Dakota’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 104 percent, when adjusted for inflation, far above the national average of 65 percent.

·      Annually, $27 billion in goods are shipped from sites in South Dakota and another $28 billion in goods are shipped to sites in South Dakota, mostly by truck. Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in South Dakota are carried by trucks and another fifteen 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 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated roads and bridges hamper economic growth

A 2014 report by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) concluded that allowing its state’s major roads, highways and bridges to deteriorate would result in significant reduction in job growth and reduced state gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of reduced economic efficiency.

·      The ODOT report used a sophisticated model that integrates transportation, land use and economic activity to compare how an economy operates when a transportation system is well-maintained versus when it is allowed to deteriorate.  The report found that deteriorated pavements, which result in a rougher and slower ride for vehicles, and deteriorated bridges, which need to be closed to heavy trucks, reduce economic productivity by increasing transportation costs.

·      The report found that allowing roads and bridges to deteriorate reduces business productivity by increasing vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on rough roads, reducing travel speeds and increasing travel times because of route detours necessitated by weight-restricted bridges. 

·      As road and bridge conditions deteriorate, transportation agencies are likely to shift resources from preservation projects, which extend the service life of roads and bridges, to more reactive maintenance projects, which results in higher lifecycle costs, the report found.  Transportation agencies are also likely to respond to increased road and bridge deterioration by shifting funds from modernization projects, which relieve congestion and increase business productivity, to maintenance projects.

·      The ODOT report estimated that the road, highway and bridge deterioration anticipated over the next 20 years will result in Oregon creating 100,000 fewer jobs and generating $9.4 billion less in state GDP.

·      Oregon could avoid losing 100,000 jobs and $9.4 billion in GDP through 2035 by spending an additional $810 million more on road, highway and bridge repairs – nearly a 12-to-1 return on investment, according to the ODOT report.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Inadequate Transportation Funding

Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the local, state and federal level, the condition and efficiency of South Dakota’s surface transportation system will decline.

·      Forty-one percent of revenue used for road, highway and bridge repairs in South Dakota comes from the federal government, 45 percent from state government and 14 percent from local governments.   

·      To maintain pavement conditions at their current level, South Dakota municipal and township governments would have to increase their annual road and highways investment by 46 percent, from $27 million to $39.5 million.  Making significant improvements in road and bridge conditions would require that the state’s municipal and township governments more than double their annual investment to $57.5 million for a 10-year period. 

·      Fifty-seven out of 57 counties who responded to a 2014 survey by the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners (SDACC) said that they faced a lack of adequate funding to maintain their roads, highways and bridges.

·      County governments responded in a 2014 SDACC poll that their primary concerns were that their road system is deteriorating faster than their budgets can cover rehabilitation and that most asphalt surfaces on their roads were at the end of their life-cycles.

·      The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) local bridge program provides approximately $6 million annually to local governments, which is enough to replace approximately 26 bridges annually.  At this rate, it will take 40 years to replace the county bridges in South Dakota that are currently in need of replacement.

·      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.

·      Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program.

·      In July 2014, Congress approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of the 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. In addition to extending the current authorization of the highway and public transportation programs, the legislation will 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. 

·      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 (AASHTO).

·      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 AASHTO. 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 South Dakota 2014 Highway Needs and Financing Interim Committee, 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), the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT), the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, the South Dakota Association of Towns and Townships and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report is the latest available.  

New TRIP Report Identifies New Mexico’s Top 25 Transportation Challenges And Needed Fixes, Including Deteriorated And Congested Roadways, Deficient Bridges, Inadequate Transit And Needed Safety Improvements

TRIPDeficient roads, highways, bridges, transit systems and crowded or congested routes in New Mexico are posing mounting challenges to the state’s residents, visitors and businesses in the form of traffic congestion, reduced economic productivity as a result of inadequate transportation capacity, road and bridge deterioration, and a lack of adequate roadway safety. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

The report, New Mexico’s Top 25 Transportation Challenges and the Improvements Needed to Address Them,” identifies New Mexico’s top transportation challenges, including the need to provide improvements to critical routes that have a multitude of needs ranging from addressing pavement deterioration, inadequate roadway or transit capacity, deficient bridges, and a lack of adequate safety features. A lack of adequate transportation funding is the constraining factor in developing and delivering these needed improvements.

The top 10 transportation challenges in the state, as identified by the TRIP report, are as follows. Additional details for all 25 transportation challenges can be found in the report’s Appendix.

  1. Need for construction of US 82 as a two-lane enhanced highway in Eddy & Lea Counties. This $180 million project would construct 86 miles of four-lane roadway (including frontage roads) in Eddy and Lea Counties. This route would help accommodate the growing heavy oil field traffic in the area.
  2. The Reconstruction and widening of I-25 in Bernalillo County. This $26 million project would reconstruct and widen 1.6 miles of I-25 in Bernalillo County (including the existing bridges) from NM 314 to Isleta Pueblo.
  3. New bridge construction on US 70 in Las Cruces. This $30 million project would include new bridge construction on US 7-0 in Las Cruces, as well as expanding the roadway to six-lanes and improving lighting, signalization and intersections. These improvements would ease the heavy congestion on this major connector between East Mesa, NASA, White Sands Missile Range and Las Cruces.
  4. US 64 reconstruction in San Juan County. This $50 million project would reconstruct four miles of US 64 to enhance safety, add capacity and improve access control.
  5. US 54 bridge replacement near Logan. This $25 million project would replace the Canadian River Bridge Crossing on US 54. The existing bridge has reached the end of its design life and has significant rust and corrosion. US 54 carries significant heavy truck travel and is the only direct route to Logan and Ute Lake State Park from Tucumcari. The detour route around this bridge is over 100 miles in length.
  6. Need for Rapid Transit Study along Paseo del Norte corridor in Albuquerque. This study would evaluate a Rapid Transit System, which could possibly be a Bus Rapid Transit System, along the Paseo del Norte corridor in order to link the northwestern portion of the Albuquerque metro area with the Journal Center and other activity centers east of the Rio Grande. This could help to alleviate congestion, making travel times more predictable for private automobiles as well as transit. This project could meet the region’s growing demand for river crossing trips, serve the large number of commuters, and accommodate projected population growth.
  7. Reconstruction and intersection improvements to NM 136 in Dona Ana County. This $40 million project would include a full reconstruction and intersection improvements to nine miles of NM 136. This route is the only direct connection between Santa Teresa Port of Entry and I-10. The improvements are needed to accommodate industrial and commercial growth in the area.
  8. Reconstruction of I-25/Rio Bravo Interchange in Albuquerque. This $37 million project would reconstruct the I-25/Rio Bravo Interchange in Albuquerque to address deterioration and relieve traffic congestion by improving the efficiency of the interchange.
  9. Development of Santa Fe Transit Center. This project would construct a multi-modal center for the southern hub of the Santa Fe Trails Transit System in Santa Fe, which carries more than 1,000,000 riders annually.   As the metro area continues to grow to the south and west, the transit center would create a formal multi-modal center that is positioned to connect important transit routes to the south and north.
  10. Bus Rapid Transit Study along Central Avenue in Albuquerque. This project would provide a combination of dedicated busway and mixed flow lanes within the current right-of-way on the Central Corridor from I-40 and Tramway Boulevard to I-40 and Artisco Vista. This corridor is a key connector of transit destinations.

According to the TRIP report, 23 percent of New Mexico’s major urban roads are in poor condition, 41 percent are in mediocre or fair condition and 36 percent are in good condition. Seven percent of bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional nine percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“The impact of road conditions on the trucking industry is measured in more than just dollars and cents,” said Johnny Johnson, managing director of the New Mexico Trucking Association.  Equipment repairs and delayed delivery of goods resulting from deteriorating and unsafe highways and bridges are indirect costs that cannot be quantified.”

New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.09. A total of 1,735 people died on New Mexico’s highways from 2009 through 2013, an average of 347 annually.

“The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce supports the need to draw greater attention to the importance of a sustained, long-term investment in New Mexico’s transportation infrastructure as outlined in the TRIP Report,” said Carlo Lucero, chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber. “Making needed improvements to New Mexico’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by stimulating short and long-term economic growth.”

Enhancing critical segments of New Mexico’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 the 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 New Mexico’s long-term economic growth and maintaining the state’s 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 New Mexico’s transportation system and addressing these challenges by improving the condition and efficiency of the state’s roads, bridges and transit systems will be an effective step in boosting the state’s economy, enhancing quality of life and making New Mexico an attractive place to live, work and visit,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

New Mexico’s Top 25 Transportation Challenges and

Improvements Needed to Address Them 

Executive Summary

            New Mexico’s extensive system of roads, highways, bridges and transit provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. As the backbone of the Land of Enchantment’s economy, New Mexico’s surface transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic well-being, and is an integral part of what makes New Mexico 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 roadway and transit 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, New Mexico faces numerous challenges in providing a transportation network that is well-maintained, as safe as possible, and that affords a level of mobility capable of supporting the state’s economic goals.

Many segments of New Mexico’s transportation system have significant deterioration, lack some desirable safety features, and do not have the capacity necessary to provide reliable mobility to support economic development, particularly on routes that support the state’s growing energy extraction industry, creating challenges for New Mexico’s residents, visitors, businesses and state and local governments. This report looks at the condition and use of New Mexico’s transportation system and provides information on the state’s top 25 transportation challenges and the improvements needed to address these challenges.

As New Mexico 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, bridges and transit systems, 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 New Mexico’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems could provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by stimulating short and long-term economic growth.

New Mexico faces significant transportation challenges, including the need to add roadway and transit capacity to support economic development, improve roadway safety and address pavement and bridge deterioration.

  • This report identifies the top 25 transportation challenges in the state, including critical sections of the state’s highway and transit systems that have significant deterioration, inadequate capacity, or that need safety improvements.
  • A lack of adequate transportation funding is the constraining factor in developing and delivering needed improvements.
  • The following, ranked in order, are New Mexico’s top transportation challenges. Details on each of the state’s top 25 transportation challenge can be found in the body of the report, as well as the Appendix.
  1. Need for construction of US 82 as a two-lane enhanced highway in Eddy & Lea Counties. This $180 million project would construct 86 miles of four-lane roadway (including frontage roads) in Eddy and Lea Counties. This route would help accommodate the growing heavy oil field traffic in the area.
  1. The Reconstruction and widening of I-25 in Bernalillo County. This $26 million project would reconstruct and widen 1.6 miles of I-25 in Bernalillo County (including the existing bridges) from NM 314 to Isleta Pueblo.
  1. New bridge construction on US 70 in Las Cruces. This $30 million project would include new bridge construction on US 7-0 in Las Cruces, as well as expanding the roadway to six-lanes and improving lighting, signalization and intersections. These improvements would ease the heavy congestion on this major connector between East Mesa, NASA, White Sands Missile Range and Las Cruces.
  1. US 64 reconstruction in San Juan County. This $50 million project would reconstruct four miles of US 64 to enhance safety, add capacity and improve access control.
  1. US 54 bridge replacement near Logan. This $25 million project would replace the Canadian River Bridge Crossing on US 54. The existing bridge has reached the end of its design life and has significant rust and corrosion. US 54 carries significant heavy truck travel and is the only direct route to Logan and Ute Lake State Park from Tucumcari. The detour route around this bridge is over 100 miles in length.
  1. Need for Rapid Transit Study along Paseo del Norte corridor in Albuquerque. This study would evaluate a Rapid Transit System, which could possibly be a Bus Rapid Transit System, along the Paseo del Norte corridor in order to link the northwestern portion of the Albuquerque metro area with the Journal Center and other activity centers east of the Rio Grande. This could help to alleviate congestion, making travel times more predictable for private automobiles as well as transit. This project could meet the region’s growing demand for river crossing trips, serve the large number of commuters, and accommodate projected population growth.
  1. Reconstruction and intersection improvements to NM 136 in Dona Ana County. This $40 million project would include a full reconstruction and intersection improvements to nine miles of NM 136. This route is the only direct connection between Santa Teresa Port of Entry and I-10. The improvements are needed to accommodate industrial and commercial growth in the area.
  1. Reconstruction of I-25/Rio Bravo Interchange in Albuquerque. This $37 million project would reconstruct the I-25/Rio Bravo Interchange in Albuquerque to address deterioration and relieve traffic congestion by improving the efficiency of the interchange.
  1. Development of Santa Fe Transit Center. This project would construct a multi-modal center for the southern hub of the Santa Fe Trails Transit System in Santa Fe, which carries more than 1,000,000 riders annually.   As the metro area continues to grow to the south and west, the transit center would create a formal multi-modal center that is positioned to connect important transit routes to the south and north.
  1. Bus Rapid Transit Study along Central Avenue in Albuquerque. This project would provide a combination of dedicated busway and mixed flow lanes within the current right-of-way on the Central Corridor from I-40 and Tramway Boulevard to I-40 and Artisco Vista. This corridor is a key connector of transit destinations.
  1. Shoulder widening and passing lanes on NM 529 in Eddy and Lea Counties. This $41.5 million project would widen the shoulders and add passing lanes on 22 miles of NM 529 in Eddy and Lea Counties. These improvements would accommodate the heavy oil field traffic in the area.
  1. Reconstruction and improvements to NM 285 from NM/Tx state line to Loving. This $22 million project would include shoulder widening, reconstruction and enhancements on 12 miles of NM 285 from the New Mexico/Texas state line to Loving in order to accommodate heavy oil field traffic in the area.
  1. Reconstruction of NM 6 in Laguna. This $30 million project would reconstruct 18.3 miles of NM 6 from I-40 to Sandoval County in order to provide a more efficient bypass from I-40 to I-25.
  1. Reconstruction of US 54 in Lincoln County. This $30 million project would reconstruct 17 miles of US 54 in Lincoln County in order to accommodate the heavy truck traffic in the area.
  1. Development of Uptown Transit Center in Albuquerque. This project would include a transit center on 1.6 acres at the intersection of Uptown Loop Road and Uptown Boulevard in order to serve multiple transit routes in the heart of the urban center. 

Growth in population and vehicle travel has far outstripped the current capacity of New Mexico’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 2013, New Mexico’s population increased by 38 percent, from approximately 1.5 million residents to approximately 2.1 million.
  • From 1990 to 2013, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 55 percent, from approximately 16.1 billion VMT to 25.1 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in New Mexico will increase another 25 percent by 2030.
  • Every year, $31.4 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New Mexico and another $46.6 billion in goods are shipped to sites in New Mexico, mostly by trucks. Sixty-five percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in New Mexico are carried by trucks and another 18 percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of their deliveries.

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.

  • 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 and additional construction as a result of the intensified use. 

  • 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 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.

New Mexico’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, bridges and transit systems to increase mobility and ease traffic congestion, make needed road and bridge repairs, and improve roadway safety.
  • In 2012, 23 percent of New Mexico’s major state and locally maintained urban roads were in poor condition, 41 percent were in mediocre or fair condition, and 36 percent were in good condition. Twenty-one percent of New Mexico’s state and locally maintained rural roads were rated in poor condition in 2012, while 33 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition and 46 percent were rated in good condition.
  • Seven percent of New Mexico’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2014. 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 2014, nine percent of New Mexico’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 1,735 people died on New Mexico’s highways from 2009 through 2013, an average of 347 annually.
  • New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.09.
  • 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.

In addition to state and local governments, the federal government is a critical source of funding for New Mexico’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 New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), 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 (SHRP) and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

 

TRIP Report: Iowa’s Transportation System Faces Numerous Challenges Including Deteriorated Roads And Bridges, High Rates Of Rural Fatalities, Increasingly Crowded Roads, And A Lack Of Adequate Funding, Which Could Stifle Economic Development Opportunities. Driving On Deficient Roads Costs Iowa’s Drivers Approximately $2 Billion Each Year.

TRIP Report: Iowa’s Transportation System Faces Numerous Challenges Including Deteriorated Roads And Bridges, High Rates Of Rural Fatalities, Increasingly Crowded Roads, And A Lack Of Adequate Funding, Which Could Stifle Economic Development Opportunities. Driving On Deficient Roads Costs Iowa’s Drivers Approximately $2 Billion Each Year.

 Iowa’s system of roads and bridges faces mounting challenges in the form of deteriorated roads and bridges, high rates of rural traffic fatalities, increasingly crowded roads, stifled economic development, and insufficient funding. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, increase roadway efficiency and support long-term economic growth in Iowa, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Iowa’s Top Transportation Challenges: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Iowa, more than a quarter of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways are in poor condition. More than a quarter of Iowa’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, the fatality rate on Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

According to TRIP calculations, driving on deficient roads cost Iowa’s drivers 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 ($935 million); the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion ($380 million); and the financial cost of traffic crashes ($654 million).

Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the local, state and federal levels, the condition, efficiency and safety of Iowa’s surface transportation system will decline. The Iowa Department of Transportation estimates the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs.

Twenty-seven percent of Iowa’s major urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 50 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 23 percent are rated in in good condition. Thirteen percent of Iowa’s rural roads are in poor condition, while 45 percent of rural roads are in mediocre or fair condition and 42 percent are in good condition. Driving on rough roads costs all Iowa motorists a total of $935 million each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerate vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“A sound road system is arguably the most significant economic development initiative the state can provide its citizens,” said Sharon Presnall, senior vice president of the Iowa Bankers Association. “It is the backbone of a sound economy, connecting Iowa with regional, national and international markets.”

Iowa’s bridges are also increasingly deteriorated. Twenty-one percent of Iowa’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. These bridges are often posted for lower weights or closed to traffic restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency response vehicles. An additional five percent of Iowa’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

“It’s time to fix our roads, because this has been put off far too long,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill. “A safe and efficient transportation system is vital for Iowans, whether it’s rural buses taking our kids to school or moving commerce.”

Traffic crashes in Iowa claimed the lives of 1,803 people between 2009 and 2013, an average of 361 fatalities each year. Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads are particularly deadly, with a traffic fatality rate of 1.66 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than three times the 0.50 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state. Each year, Iowa motorists lose $654 million in the form of financial costs due to traffic crashes, including insurance costs and lost household productivity.

Increasing levels of traffic congestion are causing significant delays in Iowa, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion costs Iowa’s motorist $380 million annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.

The efficiency and condition of Iowa’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. According to a survey of industry executives in the state, Iowa’s growing need for highway improvements was rated as one of the state’s most serious economic development weaknesses, just behind the availability of a skilled workforce. Annually, $157 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Iowa and another $142 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Iowa, mostly by truck.

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.

“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, Iowa is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge improvements, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”

IOWA’S TOP TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Executive Summary

Iowa’s extensive system of roads, bridges, and highways 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. Iowa’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.

However, the state faces numerous challenges in providing a transportation system that is safe, well-maintained, efficient and adequately funded. As Iowa works 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 Iowa’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.

Iowa 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 residents. Meeting Iowa’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated Pavement Conditions

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in increasingly deteriorated pavement conditions, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC).

  • Twenty-seven percent of Iowa’s major urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 50 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 23 percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Thirteen percent of Iowa’s rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 45 percent of the state’s rural roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 42 percent are rated in 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.
  • Driving on rough roads costs all Iowa motorists a total of $935 million annually in extra VOC. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Large Share of Deficient Bridges

More than a quarter of locally and state-maintained bridges in Iowa 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.

  • Twenty-one percent of Iowa’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.
  • There are a total of 5,022 structurally deficient bridges in Iowa, the second highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, behind only Pennsylvania.
  • Five percent of Iowa’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 Des Moines area, 11 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 13 percent are functionally obsolete.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: High Rural Traffic Fatality Rates

Improving safety features on Iowa’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.

  • Between 2009 and 2013 a total of 1,803 people were killed in traffic crashes in Iowa, an average of 361 fatalities per year
  • The fatality rate on Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.66 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, more than three times the 0.50 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • Each year, Iowa motorists lose $654 million in the form of the financial cost of traffic crashes, including insurance costs and lost household productivity.
  • 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.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Economic Growth Threatened by Increasingly Crowded Roads

The efficiency of Iowa’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Iowa, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce.

  • According to a recently completed study conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice on behalf of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, “Despite Iowa’s well‐developed freight transportation system, the Synchronist survey of industry executives reveals frequent concern about need for highway improvements. It was rated as one of the most serious economic development weaknesses found in Iowa, just behind the availability of skilled workforce.”
  • Iowa’s population reached approximately 3.1 million residents in 2013, an 11 percent increase since 1990. Iowa has approximately 2.2 million licensed drivers.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Iowa increased by 38 percent from 1990 to 2013 – from 23 billion VMT in 1990 to 31.6 billion VMT in 2013. By 2030, vehicle travel in Iowa is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2013, Iowa’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 65 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
  • 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 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 drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs. 
  • Traffic congestion costs Iowa’s motorist $380 million annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.
  • Annually, $157 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Iowa and another $142 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Iowa, mostly by truck. Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Iowa are carried by trucks and another nine 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 two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

 

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Inadequate Transportation Funding

Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the local, state and federal level, the condition, efficiency and safety of Iowa’s surface transportation system will decline.

  • The Iowa Department of Transportation estimates the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs.
  • The declining condition of Iowa’s highways and reduced availability of highway improvement funding through the existing gas tax is now among the top concerns of industry executives across the state.
  • Driving on deficient roads cost Iowa’s drivers 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 ($935 million); the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion ($380 million); and the financial cost of traffic crashes ($654 million).
  • 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
  • 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 information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT), 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). All data used in the report is the latest available.