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TRIP Report: Maryland’s Heavily Traveled Transportation System Will Need Additional Investment To Ease Congestion & Improve Mobility

NEW REPORT IDENTIFIES STATE’S MOST CONGESTED HIGHWAYS AND ARTERIAL ROADWAYS & IDENTIFIES TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS NEEDED TO IMPROVE ACCESS

 Maryland’s quality of life and economic development is being hampered by high levels of traffic congestion and reduced accessibility, but is benefitting from a statewide program to improve accessibility and Governor Hogan has proposed a comprehensive set of transportation improvements designed to  improve mobility, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.

According to the TRIP report, Keeping Maryland Mobile: Accomplishments and Challenges in Improving Accessibility in Maryland to Support Quality of Life and a Strong Economy,”the state’s roads carry the highest traffic volume in the nation and commute lengths are the second longest in the U.S. Traffic congestion costs the state’s residents and businesses billions of dollars each year and severely constrains the number of jobs accessible to residents. The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is implementing a plan to relieve congestion and enhance reliability, and Governor Hogan has recommended a $17.8 billion multimodal congestion relief plan designed to accommodate growth and improve economic development.

Maryland’s major urban highways and roads carried the highest average daily traffic per lane mile in the nation in 2017. The average daily commute for the state’s residents was 32.7 minutes, the second longest average commute in the nation, behind only New York at 33 minutes. The average driver in the Washington, DC area loses 87 hours to congestion each year at an annual cost of $2,007 per driver in lost time and wasted fuel. In the Baltimore area, the average driver loses 50 hours to congestion annually at a cost of $1,220 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Congestion on the state’s highways, freeways, and major arterial roads costs the public $3.4 billion annually in the value of lost time and wasted fuel.

Traffic congestion also impacts the number of jobs available to residents. in 2017, of the approximately 1.9 million jobs accessible within a one-hour drive to residents of the Baltimore metro area, only 30 percent are accessible within a 30-minute drive. And, of the approximately 2.6 million jobs accessible within a one-hour drive to residents of the Washington, DC metro area, only 24 percent are accessible within a 30-minute drive. In 2017, the number of jobs accessible within a 40-minute drive in the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro areas during peak commuting hours was reduced by 38 and 47 percent, respectively, as a result of traffic congestion.

The TRIP report also identified the most congested portions of Maryland highways and arterial (non-freeway) roadways during weekday AM and PM peak travel hours. The chart below details the ten most congested highways and arterial roadways during peak AM and PM travel hours. A full list of the most congested segments is included in the report.

“The TRIP report outlines exactly why the Traffic Relief Plan is critical to address the congestion Marylanders deal with every day,” said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn.

Freight shipments in Maryland, which are primarily carried by trucks, are expected to increase significantly through 2040 due to population and economic growth, and changes in business, retail, and consumer models, which rely on a faster and more responsive supply chain. The efficiency of freight movement in Maryland is threatened by traffic congestion, which reduces the reliability of goods movement to and from destinations in the state and through the state. The chart below ranks the five highway segments in Maryland that provide the worst travel reliability for commercial trucks as a result of traffic congestion. A full list is included in the report.

MDOT SHA congestion relief programs – which include an incident management program, additional park and ride spaces, HOV lanes, new sidewalks, and bike lanes, and improvements to at-grade rail crossings and major intersections – were estimated in 2016 to save approximately $1.6 billion in reduced delays, fuel consumption and emissions. In addition to the efforts already underway, Governor Hogan has recommended a $17.8 billion multimodal congestion relief plan that includes the following: widening approximately 70 miles of Interstates via funding provided through a public-private partnership, completion of the Purple Line from the Bethesda Metro Station to the New Carrollton Metro Station, and a statewide expansion of the smart traffic signal program.

“It is critical that Maryland has a robust transportation plan capable of improving mobility and accessibility, which is vital to the state’s economic health and quality of life,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “While recent state efforts to ease congestion and improve the reliability of Maryland’s transportation system have been helpful, more work still needs to be done. Congress can help by fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund and passing major infrastructure legislation.”

Keeping Maryland Mobile:

Accomplishments and Challenges in Improving Accessibility in Maryland to Support Quality of Life and a Strong Economy

Executive Summary

Accessibility is a critical factor in a state’s quality of life and economic competitiveness. The ability of people and businesses using multiple transportation modes to access employment, customers, commerce, recreation, education and healthcare in a timely fashion is critical for the development of a region and a state. Maryland’s quality of life and economic development is being hampered by high levels of traffic congestion and reduced accessibility, but stands to benefit from a statewide program to improve accessibility in the Old Line State and could realize significant benefits from a proposal for an even more robust program to improve mobility.

TRIP’s “Keeping Maryland Mobile” report examines the mobility and efficiency of the state’s transportation system and improvements needed to enhance access.

TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN MARYLAND

High levels of traffic congestion on Maryland’s major urban roads and highways reduce the reliability and efficiency of personal and commercial travel and hamper the state’s ability to support economic development and quality of life.

  • Maryland’s major urban highways and roads ranked number one nationally in 2017 for the average amount of traffic carried daily per-lane-mile, and second nationally in average daily commute length from 2013 to 2017.

  • The following chart shows the number of hours lost annually per average driver in the state’s two largest urban areas and the per-driver cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion in 2017.

  • In its 2017 state mobility report, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) estimates that congestion on the state’s highways, freeways and major arterial roads costs the public $3.4 billion annually in the value of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • A Center for Transportation Studies report found that, in 2017, of the approximately 1.9 million jobs accessible within a one-hour drive to residents of the Baltimore metro area, only 30 percent are accessible within a 30-minute drive. And, of the approximately 2.6 million jobs accessible within a one-hour drive to residents of the Washington, DC metro area, only 24 percent are accessible within a 30 minute drive.
  • The Center for Transportation Studies report also found that, in 2017, the number of jobs accessible within a 40 minute drive in the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro areas during peak commuting hours was reduced by 38 and 47 percent, respectively, as a result of traffic congestion.

MARLAND’S MOST CONGESTED ROADWAYS

In its 2017 annual mobility report, MDOT SHA ranked the state’s most congested sections of highways and most congested sections of arterial (non-freeway) roadways.  Traffic congestion on these routes significantly reduces the reliability of travel times in these corridors.

  • The following chart shows the most congested portions of Maryland highways during weekday AM and PM peak travel hours.

  • The following chart shows the most congested portions of Maryland arterial roadways during weekday AM and PM peak travel hours.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS IN MARYLAND

The rate of population and economic growth in Maryland has resulted in increased demands on the state’s transportation system. 

  • Maryland’s population reached approximately six million residents in 2018, a 14 percent increase since 2000. Maryland’s population is expected to increase to approximately 6.9 million people by 2040 and the state is expected to add another 600,000 jobs by 2040.
  • From 2000 to 2017, Maryland’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 45 percent, when adjusted for inflation and U.S. GDP increased by 37 percent.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Maryland increased by 20 percent from 2000 to 2017 –from 50 billion VMT in 2000 to 60 billion VMT in 2017. The rate of vehicle travel growth in Maryland has accelerated since 2013, increasing by six percent between 2013 and 2017.
  • By 2040, vehicle travel on I-495 and I-270 is expected to increase by 10 percent and 15 percent respectively.
  • Travel on the InterCounty Connector, a 19-mile tolled highway from I-370 to US 1, which was opened in stages from 2011 to 2014, increased by 35 percent from 2014 to 2016, reaching a daily average of 50,900 vehicles.

FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION IN MARYLAND

Freight shipments in Maryland, which are primarily carried by trucks, are expected to increase significantly through 2040 due to population and economic growth, and changes in business, retail, and consumer models, which rely on a faster and more responsive supply chain.  The efficiency of freight movement in Maryland is threatened by traffic congestion, which reduces the reliability of goods movement to and from destinations in the state and through the state. 

  • Annually, $369 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Maryland, mostly by truck.  Seventy-seven percent are carried by trucks and another 16 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Maryland, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is expected to increase 110 percent by 2045.
  • The following chart shows the five highway locations in Maryland carrying the largest number of large commercial trucks daily, and the five highway locations where large commercial trucks make up the largest share of daily traffic.

 

  • The following chart details the highway segments in Maryland that provide the worst travel reliability for commercial trucks as a result of traffic congestion.

  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 2017 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine. Labor costs and the availability of skilled labor, which are both impacted by a site’s level of accessibility, were rated second and third, respectively.

PROGRESS IN RELIEVING TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN MARYLAND  

Using a combination of programs and projects, the MDOT SHA is addressing Maryland’s traffic congestion and reliability challenges. These efforts are aimed at improving efficiency and expanding the capacity of the state’s transportation system.

  • MDOT SHA congestion relief programs and projects to improve the efficiency and expand the capacity of the state’s major roadways were estimated in 2016 to save approximately $1.6 billion in reduced delays, fuel consumption, and emissions.
  • MDOT SHA congestion relief efforts include: an incident management program that in 2016 cleared more than 30,000 incidents and assisted approximately 42,000 stranded motorists; improved traffic signalization; the provision of approximately 6,700 park and ride spaces at 106 locations; the use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on portions of I-270 and US 50; the addition of nine miles of new sidewalks, 88 miles of marked bike lanes and six miles of shared use bike lanes; the addition of four new virtual freight weigh stations; the improvement of eight at-grade rail crossings; and, improvements to ten major intersections and the widening of a portion of MD 355 from Center Drive to West Cedar Lane in Montgomery County.

PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS TO ENHANCE ACCESSIBILITY IN MARYLAND  

Governor Larry Hogan has recommended a transportation plan designed to provide congestion relief, accommodate growth and improve economic development in Maryland. Using innovative design and funding methods, the goal of the plan is to improve the capacity, operations, and safety of Maryland’s transportation system.

  • The $17.8 billion multimodal congestion relief plan includes:
  • Widening of approximately 70 miles of Interstates in Maryland via funding provided through a public-private partnership, including I-495 from south of the American Legion Bridge to east of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and I-270 from I-495 to I-70, including the east and west I-270 spurs.
  • A traffic relief plan for portions of the Baltimore Beltway from I-70 to MD 43.
  • An active traffic management program for I-95 from MD 32 to MD 100.
  • The expansion of express toll lanes on I-95 from MD 43 to MD 24.
  • The completion of the Purple Line from the Bethesda Metro Station to the New Carrollton Metro Station.
  • Improvements to the BaltimoreLink transit system, the METRO system, and the MARC system.
  • Statewide expansion of the smart traffic signal program.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MARYLAND

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

  • Most federal funds for highway and transit improvements in Maryland are provided by federal highway user fees, largely an 18.4 cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and a 24.4 cents-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel. Because revenue into the federal Highway Trust Fund has been inadequate to support legislatively set funding levels since 2008, Congress has transferred approximately $53 billion in general funds and an additional $2 billion from a related trust fund into the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO), the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Center for Transportation Studies, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  All data used in the report are the most recent available. 

ARTBA: House Committees Discuss Infrastructure Package, Surface Transportation Reauthorization

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

The first hearing on reauthorization of the FAST Act law, entitled “Aligning Federal Surface Transportation Policy to Meet 21st Century Needs,” took place March 13 before the House Highways & Transit subcommittee.  It covered a wide range of subjects, including how best to address the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall, measures to improve the project delivery process, and the use of new technologies to improve safety and congestion.FAST Act

Seven witnesses tackled questions from committee members ranging from building on the existing partnership between federal, state and local entities to workforce training and development.

The FAST Act is set to expire Sept. 30, 2020.  Reauthorization of the law could come sooner, however, with both the Trump administration and congressional Republicans calling for an updated surface transportation law to be the basis for any infrastructure package this year.

Also on March 13, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the administration’s FY 2020 budget request at a House Ways & Means Committee hearing.  Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) began the infrastructure discussion saying, “At the top of that list is infrastructure. Repairing our aging roads and bridges and investing in a 21st-century infrastructure system is a win for everyone – workers, consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole.”

Mnuchin defended the administration’s plans for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package and pledged to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner.  When asked if a motor fuels tax was part of the president’s plans, Mnuchin did not dismiss the idea but also did not endorse the revenue mechanism.

Without an increase in Highway Trust Fund revenues, the next surface transportation law will require an average of $19 billion per year on top of existing user fee revenues just to maintain current levels of spending.  ARTBA staff will continue working on Capitol Hill and with the administration to ensure that any infrastructure package or FAST Act reauthorization includes a permanent, user-fee based revenue fix that will sustain adequate long-term investments in the trust fund.

Michigan Governor’s statement on ‘hidden roads tax’ costing drivers $646/yr

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after the national transportation research group TRIP found that the average Michigan driver spends $646 per year on car repairs, which is up from $562 in previous reports.

“Every driver in Michigan is already paying a hidden tax on our roads, and the cost just went up.

If we don’t raise the $2.5 billion we need to actually fix our roads the right way, with the right materials, the cost will continue to go up year after year. Patching potholes and ignoring the problem isn’t working. Instead, it’s hurting our families and businesses and holding our economy back.

I’ve offered a real plan to raise the revenue we need to fix the damn roads and ensure we can attract businesses and talent to our state, and I’m ready to work with everyone who’s ready to solve these problems.”

https://www.wilx.com/content/news/Governors-statement-on-hidden-roads-tax-costing-drivers-646yr–507028711.html

ARTBA’s Bauer Urges Congress to Fix The Highway Trust Fund

By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer Feb. 28 told the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) that industry leaders and state agencies need to keep urging Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund so that it not only is sustainable but also supports investment growth. Failure to put in place a solution to the trust funds’ permanent revenue shortfall will imperil next year’s scheduled reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs.

“We’re trying to fix an $18 billion revenue shortfall,” Bauer said. “To shore it up we’ve used $140 billion in gimmicks and general fund transfers for the last 10 years. So this is no longer about a temporary plug to fill the Highway Trust Fund; we need to look for a long-term solution.”

In states and localities, he added, community leaders and elected officials are better positioned to tell voters what road and bridge improvements will mean to help local economies. Two such success stories in the Washington, D.C., region are the Woodrow Wilson Bridge spanning the Potomac River, and increased capacity on the interchange between Interstate 95 and Interstate 495, better known as the Beltway.

“We should be celebrating the outcome of those projects,” Bauer said. On the federal side, “there’s very little discussion about what infrastructure achieves.”

Other industry panelists included Paul Skoutelas, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association; Anne Ferro, president of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators; Corinne Kisner, executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials; and Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties.

Returning “earmarks” is one tool Congress could use to garner public support for increased infrastructure spending, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) suggested, though he did not use the word. DeFazio said “Article I projects,” named after the article of the Constitution that established the legislative branch of the federal government, will help build support for a gas tax increase needed to replenish the depleted Highway Trust Fund and support the next surface transportation bill, due next year.

“Why shouldn’t elected representatives, through a transparent process, be able to spend a small amount of money, bring it home, and show people what they’re going to get for a small increase in their gas tax?” DeFazio asked.

For more information visit: artba.org 

TRIP Reports: ALABAMA DRIVERS LOSE $5.3 BILLION ANNUALLY ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES.

ALABAMA DRIVERS LOSE $5.3 BILLION ANNUALLY – AS MUCH AS $1,846 PER DRIVER – ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER ROAD AND BRIDGE DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION & HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Alabama motorists a total of $5.3 billion per year – as much as $1,846 per driver in some areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Adequate investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels is needed to relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge, and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Alabama, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC-based national nonprofit transportation research organization.

The TRIP report, Alabama Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility finds that nearly one-third of Alabama’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) are structurally deficient. The report also finds that the state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. In addition to the statewide report, TRIP has also prepared regional reports for the  Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden, Birmingham, Florence, Decatur-Huntsville, MobileMontgomery and Tuscaloosa urban areas.

Driving on deficient roads costs Alabama drivers $5.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The chart below details the statewide costs as well as the cost to the average driver in each of the state’s largest urban areas.

The TRIP report finds that 14 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Alabama are in poor condition and another 16 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers an additional $2 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

Traffic congestion in the state’s largest urban areas is worsening, causing up to 37 annual hours of delay and as much as $990 each year in lost time and wasted fuel for residents in the state’s largest urban area. Alabama drivers lose a total of $1.5 billion annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.

“Infrastructure impacts both the local economy and quality of life for those who live in Montgomery,” said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. “From tech to healthcare to public safety and tourism – everyone benefits from a sound infrastructure, and we will continue to support these improvements in our area.”

Seven percent (1,200 of 16,129) of Alabama’s bridges are rated structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. Nearly half – 49 percent – of Alabama’s bridges are at least 50 years old.

From 2015 to 2017, 4,507 people were killed in traffic crashes in Alabama. The financial impact of traffic crashes costs Alabama motorists a total of $1.8 billion statewide.  Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.34 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.16. The fatality rate on Alabama’s non-interstate rural roads is more than two and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (2.38 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.87).

The buying power of the state’s 18 cents-per-gallon fuel tax, last raised in 1992, has been more than cut in half by inflation and increased fuel economy. The vast majority of Alabama’s current transportation budget is devoted to preserving the existing system, leaving only $150 million available annually for new projects.

The efficiency and condition of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $432 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by trucks, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to relocate 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. More than 940,000 full-time jobs in Alabama in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture, and manufacturing are dependent on the state’s transportation network.

“Driving on deficient roads comes with $5.3 billion price tag for Alabama motorists,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Adequate funding for the state’s transportation system would allow for smoother roads, more efficient mobility, enhanced safety, and economic growth opportunities while saving Alabama’s drivers time and money.”

Alabama Transportation

by the Numbers

MEETING THE STATE’S NEED FOR

SAFE, SMOOTH AND EFFICIENT MOBILITY

ALABAMA KEY TRANSPORTATION FACTS

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Alabama roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Alabama drivers a total of $5.3 billion each year. TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes. The chart below details the cost of deficient roads statewide and for the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas.

 

ALABAMA ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 30 percent of major roads and highways in Alabama are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Alabama driver $507 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $2 billion statewide.

ALABAMA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Seven percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In Alabama, 49 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.

ALABAMA ROADS ARE INCREASINGLY CONGESTED

The state’s roads are seeing unprecedented levels of traffic, with the number of vehicle miles of travel per lane mile in Alabama increasing 40 percent from 1990 to 2015.  Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Alabama drivers $1.5 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $990 and nearly one full work week per year sitting in congestion.

ALABAMA TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2013 to 2017, 4,507 people were killed in traffic crashes in Alabama. Traffic crashes imposed a total of $5.5 billion in economic costs in Alabama in 2017 and traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.8 billion in economic costs.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The health and future growth of Alabama’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $432 billion in goods are shipped to, from and within sites in Alabama, mostly by truck. Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested network of roads and bridges.

The design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Alabama support 65,068 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $2.1 billion annually. Approximately 940,000 full-time jobs in Alabama in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture, and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

 

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN ALABAMA

            The buying power of the state’s 18 cents-per-gallon fuel tax, last raised in 1992, has been more than cut in half by inflation and increased fuel economy. The vast majority of Alabama’s current transportation budget is devoted to preserving the existing system, leaving only $150 million available each year for new projects that would address congestion or expand the system to accommodate population and travel growth, and promote economic development. A 2019 report by the University of Alabama’s Alabama Transportation Institute and Alabama Transportation Policy Research Center found that, through 2040, Alabama should be spending a minimum of $600 million annually on additional roadway capacity to allow the state to be economically competitive. An annual investment of $800 million in additional roadway capacity would optimize Alabama’s economic opportunities.

ATRIP (the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program)provided Alabama with more than $1.3 billion in borrowed dollars, beginning in 2013, to address needed improvements that would not have been possible with the available revenue. The use of approximately $200 million annually in ATRIP funds, which concluded in 2017, as well as additional debt incurred to finance the reconstruction of the elevated interstate and bridges in Birmingham’s Central Business District, has resulted in the state’s annual highway debt service increasing to $114 million in 2018, a level it will stay at for the next 19 years.  This annual level of state highway debt service is up from $13.6 million in 2011.

CONCLUSION

As Alabama works to enhance its thriving, growing and dynamic state, it will be critical that it is able to address the most significant transportation issues by providing a 21stcentury network of roads, highways, bridges, and transit that can accommodate the mobility demands of modern society.

Alabama will need to modernize its surface transportation system by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility for residents, visitors and businesses. Making needed improvements to the state’s roads, highways, bridges, and transit systems would provide a significant boost to the economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long-term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

Numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of Alabama’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will not be able to proceed without a substantial boost in state or local transportation funding.  If Alabama is unable to complete needed transportation projects it will hamper the state’s ability to improve the condition and efficiency of its transportation system or enhance economic development opportunities and quality of life.

For full report click here

TRIPNET.ORG