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TRIP Reports: MICHIGAN TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS UNDERWAY DUE TO INCREASED FUNDING; ADDITIONAL INVESTMENT STILL NEEDED

TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, RELIEVE CONGESTION AND REDUCE COSTS TO MOTORISTS OF DRIVING ON CONGESTED, DEFICIENT ROADS

While increased transportation funding provided by Michigan’s 2015 road funding package has allowed many projects to proceed throughout the state, additional investment is needed to complete numerous projects that would improve Michigan’s road and bridge conditions, relieve traffic congestion, and enhance traffic safety and efficiency. This isaccording to a new report from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington, DC.

Passage of the 2015 road funding package will increase state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.7 billion in 2023. The additional transportation funding has allowed the state to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded, though many projects across the state will not move forward without additional transportation funding. The TRIP report includes a list of projects across the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2023, and a list of projects that currently lack adequate funding to proceed.

Statewide, 24 percent of major roads are in poor condition and 20 percent are in mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists $4.6 billion annually in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“The TRIP data confirms what we’ve been saying for some time: Michigan’s roads and bridges are crumbling because of decades of under investment,” said Michigan Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer and Chief Engineer Tony Kratofil. “Ensuring safe and efficient travel is our top priority, and these findings demonstrate the challenges we face fulfilling our mission.”

Statewide, 11 percent (1,175 of 11,180) of bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Forty-three percent of Michigan’s bridges (4,815 of 11,180) were built in 1969 or earlier.  Bridges 50 years or older often require significant rehabilitation or replacement.

Michigan drivers are dealing with increasingly congested roadways, as population and vehicle-travel rates return to pre-recession levels. Drivers lose as many as 54 hours each year as a result of traffic congestion. Lost time and wasted fuel as a result of congestion cost Michigan drivers a total of $5.6 billion annually.

Improving safety features on Michigan’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes. A total of 4,905 people were killed in Michigan in traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 981 fatalities per year. Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost Michigan drivers $3.9 billion annually in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.

The efficiency and condition of Michigan’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $1 trillion in goods are shipped to, from and within sites in Michigan, 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 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.

“While the recent influx of funding has allowed Michigan to make strides in improving its transportation system, more work still needs to be done to provide the state’s residents, businesses and visitors with a smooth, safe and efficient transportation system,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Michigan will need to continue to make transportation investment a top priority.”

Modernizing Michigan’s Transportation System:
Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient andWell-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges

Executive Summary

A decade after suffering a significant economic downturn, Michigan is recovering, with its population and economy growing and vehicle travel increasing in response to the growth.  But the state’s rate of recovery could be slowed if Michigan is not able to provide a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The pace of economic growth, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Great Lakes State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on agriculture, manufacturing, technology, natural resource extraction, and tourism, the quality of Michigan’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a transportation funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, registration fees and general funds. While this increased funding will allow the state and local governments to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of the state’s transportation system, the funding is not sufficient to fully address the significant deterioration of the system, or to allow the state to provide many of the transportation improvements needed to support economic growth.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require staying the course with Michigan’s current transportation program and increasing transportation investment.

THE COST TO MICHIGAN MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Michigan’s transportation system costs the state’s motorists a total of $14.1 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $4.6 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Based on research indicating that roadway design is likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of serious and fatal traffic crashes, TRIP estimates that the economic costs of serious and fatal traffic crashes in Michigan, in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor, is $3.9 billion per year. These costs come in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Michigan motorists a total of $5.6 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Additional transportation funding provided by the state legislature in 2015 will allow MDOT to complete numerous needed projects throughout the state. While the additional dollars have been helpful, many needed projects still remain unfunded.

 In late 2015, Michigan’s governor signed into law a road funding package that relies on a combination of increased user fees, such as gas taxes and registration fees, and allocations from the General Fund.

  • As a result of the funding increase, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to almost $3.7 billion in 2023. The chart below details the amount (in millions) of state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit.

  • The 2015 transportation legislation provided an additional $484 million in transportation revenue in 2017, increasing to $649 million annually in 2021. The legislation also provided income-tax revenues for transportation starting in 2019.

  • The income-tax revenue provided by the 2015 legislation is not dedicated in the state’s Constitution — as road-user fees are – and the appropriation could be changed.After 2020, income-tax revenues are expected to continue at $600 million per year, and the fuel-tax rate will rise with the Consumer Price Index after 2022.
  • Additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation will allow Michigan to move forward with numerous projects that otherwise may have remained unfunded. The list below details a sampling of projects in Michigan’s major urban areas and throughout the state that are either underway or will be underway or completed no later than 2023, partly due to increased revenue.

  • Despite additional transportation funding provided by the 2015 legislation, numerous needed transportation projects in Michigan remain unfunded. The list below details projects in Michigan’s major urban areas and throughout the state that currently lack adequate funding to proceed.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Population and economic growth results in increased demands on major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on a state’s transportation system. 

  • Michigan’s population is again growing and nearing pre-recession levels after beginning to fall in 2005 and dropping each year until 2011. The state’s population has increased each year from 2011 to 2018 and is currently at 10 million residents. Michigan has approximately 7.1 million licensed drivers.
  • After decreasing by 14 percent between 2000 and 2009, when adjusted for inflation, Michigan’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 21 percent from 2009 to 2017.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Michigan increased by seven percent from 2013 to 2017, to 101.8 billion vehicle miles traveled in 2017.

MICHIGAN ROAD CONDITIONS

The share of Michigan’s major roads with pavements in poor condition has increased due to a lack of adequate state and local funding, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • The Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) found in its Michigan’s 2017 Roads and Bridges Annual Report that 40 percent of federal-aid eligible roads and highways in Michigan have pavements in poor condition, an increase from 2006 when 25 percent were rated in poor condition.
  • The TAMC report found that under current funding the share of federal-aid eligible roads in the state in poor condition will decrease slightly by 2027 to 37 percent.
  • Based on 2017 pavement condition data from the Federal Highway Administration, the chart below details pavement conditions on major roads inthe state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MICHIGAN

One-in-nine locally and state-maintained bridges in Michigan show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Statewide, eleven percent of Michigan’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.
  • The TAMC report found that under current funding the share of Michigan bridges rated in poor condition (which is a rating similar to structurally deficient) will increase from 10 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2027.
  • Forty-three percent of Michigan’s bridges (4,815 out of 11,180) were built in 1969 or earlier. Bridges 50 years or older often require significant rehabilitation or replacement.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $607 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in Michigan.
  • The chart below details the number and share of structurally deficient bridges inthe state’s largest urban areas and statewide:

MICHIGAN TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Michigan, particularly in larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion annually for the average driver in Michigan’s largest urban areas. It also includes the cost of congestion per motorist, in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MICHIGAN

Improving safety features on Michigan’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

  • A total of 4,905 people were killed in Michigan traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 981 fatalities per year.
  • Michigan’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.01 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2017 was below the national average of 1.16.
  • The fatality rate on Michigan’s non-interstate rural roads in 2017 was nearly double that on all other roads in the state (1.55 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.83).
  • The following chart indicates the average number of people killed annually in vehicle crashes in Michigan’s major urban areas from 2014 to 2016.

  • 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.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MICHIGAN

The current federal surface transportation program, which expires in 2020, falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. Boosting federal surface transportation spending will require that Congress provide a long-term and sustainable source of funding to support the federal Highway Trust Fund.

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process.  But, the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MICHIGAN

The efficiency of Michigan’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy.  A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.  The design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in Michigan is a significant source of employment in the state.  

  • Annually, $1 trillion in goods are shipped to, from and within sites in Michigan, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Michigan are carried by trucks and another 15 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Michigan supports 94,107 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $4.1 billion annually.
  • Approximately 1.9 million full-time jobs in Michigan in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
  • 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.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 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.

Conclusion

As Michigan works to continue its economic recovery and build a thriving, growing and dynamic state, it will be critical that the state is able to address its most significant transportation issues by providing a well-maintained 21st century network of roads, highways, bridges and transit that can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society.

Michigan 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 could 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.

While the funding increase provided in 2015 will be helpful, Michigan  still faces significant challenges in improving the condition of its  roads and bridges and numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of Michigan’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will not be able to proceed without a substantial boost in state or local transportation funding.  If Michigan 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.

 

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  All data used in the report are the most recent available.  

INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED

INCREASED NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT DUE LARGELY TO BOOST IN ENERGY-RELATED REVENUES HAS ALLOWED NUMEROUS PROJECTS TO PROCEED, BUT STATE STILL FACES $2.5 BILLION SHORTFALL IN PROJECTS NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITION OF AGING ROADS & BRIDGES, INCREASE SAFETY AND PROMOTE ECONOMIC GROWTH AS ENERGY-RELATED FUNDS DECREASE

 While increased transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of the state’s energy boom, has allowed numerous projects to proceed, additional investment is still needed to improve road and bridge conditions, enhance safety and accommodate projected growth,according to a new report from TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, DC.

The TRIP report, Modernizing North Dakota’s Transportation System: Progress & Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways & Bridges,” finds that with the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation projects. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018. The state faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities and improve roadway safety. The chart below details needed transportation projects throughout the state that lack funding to proceed.

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014, and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. The state’s population increased by 18 percent from 2000 to 2017 and is expected to increase another 38 percent by 2040. North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased 133 percent from 2000 to 2014, the highest rate in the nation during that time. However, the state’s GDP decreased seven percent from 2014 to 2016, the largest decline in the nation during that time. And while North Dakota experienced the largest increase in vehicle miles of travel (VMT) in the nation from 2000 to 2014 (46 percent), the state also experienced the largest decrease in VMT from 2014 to 2016 (seven percent). Energy extraction levels in North Dakota have begun rising again in 2018 following a modest downturn in 2016 and 2017, resulting in additional economic activity and vehicle travel in North Dakota, which will increase wear and tear on the state’s roads, highways, and bridges.

“North Dakota has made investments in recent years out of necessity because of the energy boom and paid for those investments with energy revenue,” said Arik Spencer, president & CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC). “This report makes clear more needs to be done. These findings are consistent with the wishes of GNDC’s members, who consistently cite infrastructure as one of their greatest concerns and name it as a top priority for the next legislative session.”

Nearly two-thirds of North Dakota’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, with pavement conditions projected to decline in the future without additional funding. According to the TRIP report, 36 percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition. The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue. NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.

According to the TRIP report, 14 percent of North Dakota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.  The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota.  The average number of bridges NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.

Traffic crashes in North Dakota claimed the lives of 643 people between 2013 and 2017. The state’s rural, non-Interstate roads are particularly deadly, with a traffic fatality rate that is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).

The efficiency and condition of North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges.

“While the increase of energy-related revenues allowed North Dakota to make strides in improving its transportation system, declining energy-related transportation revenues will result in reduced road and bridge repairs, leading to worsening road, highway and bridge conditions in the state,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Ensuring that North Dakota’s transportation system contributes to a high quality of life in the state and supports North Dakota’s economic development goals will require increased transportation investment.”

Executive Summary

North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges form vital transportation links for the state’s residents, visitors and businesses, providing daily access to homes, jobs, shopping, natural resources and recreation.  The condition, efficiency and funding of North Dakota’s transportation system are critical to quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Peace Garden State.

North Dakota has experienced a significant boom in energy extraction in its western counties that, since 2005, has resulted in a ten-fold increase in crude oil production, spurred by advancements in extraction technology and increases in fuel prices.  While the state’s energy boom has resulted in a tremendous increase in wear and tear on the state’s roadways, it has also provided a significant boost in transportation funding. The modest decrease in energy extraction in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017, as a result of reduced energy prices, has significantly reduced the amount of additional energy-related revenue in North Dakota available for transportation investment. And despite the surge and subsequent drop in energy-related transportation revenues, North Dakota continues to face a significant backlog in needed funding for transportation, largely as a result of a lack of an adequate, dedicated state funding source for road, highway and bridge repairs and improvements.

This report examines the condition, use, safety and funding of North Dakota’s roads, highways and bridges and the state’s future mobility needs.  Sources of information for this report include the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

An increase in transportation investment in North Dakota, largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, has allowed many needed road, highway and bridge projects to proceed.  With the amount of energy-related revenues available for transportation decreasing, North Dakota faces a significant shortfall in funding for needed transportation improvements. 

  • From 2012 to 2018, $3 billion in state energy-related revenues were spent on transportation improvements in North Dakota. Energy-related revenue in North Dakota used for transportation increased from $216 million in 2012 to $619 million in 2017 before dropping to $194 million in 2018.
  • The $3 billion in energy-related revenue used for transportation in North Dakota represents 63 percent of the $4.8 billion in state revenue provided to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), from 2012 to 2018.
  • North Dakota faces a $2.5 billion shortfall from 2018 to 2023 in transportation funding needed to improve road, highway and bridge conditions, support economic development opportunities, and improve roadway safety.
  • Largely as a result of increased energy-related revenues, NDDOT has been able to proceed with numerous projects to improve the condition, safety and reliability of its roads, highways and bridges.
  • The chart below details North Dakota transportation projects that have been completed, are underway or will be completed by 2021 because of increased state transportation funding, largely due to increased energy-related state revenue.
  • The chart below details needed transportation projects in the state that lack adequate funding to proceed.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Largely as a result of the state’s energy boom and subsequent decline, North Dakota experienced the nation’s greatest rate of economic and vehicle travel growth from 2000 to 2014 and the nation’s greatest rate of reduction in economic output and vehicle travel from 2014 to 2016. 

  • North Dakota’s population reached approximately 755,000 residents in 2017, an 18 percent increase since 2000. North Dakota had 555,935 licensed drivers in 2016.
  • North Dakota’s population is expected to increase by 38 percent by 2040 to 1,045,000, an increase of 290,000 people.
  • From 2000 to 2014, North Dakota’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 133 percent, when adjusted for inflation, the highest rate in the nation during that time. From 2014 to 2016, North Dakota’s GDP decreased by seven percent, when adjusted for inflation, the greatest rate of decline in the nation during that time.
  • Crude oil production in North Dakota increased from 98 thousand barrels a day in 2005 to 1.17 million barrels per day in 2015 before declining to 1.03 and 1.06 million barrels per day in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in North Dakota increased by 46 percent from 2000 to 2014, the greatest rate of increase in the nation during that time. VMT in North Dakota decreased by seven percent between 2014 and 2016, the greatest decrease in the nation during that time.

NORTH DAKOTA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in approximately one-third of major urban roads and highways in North Dakota having pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Thirty-six percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 28 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Eleven percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 25 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Eight percent of North Dakota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 15 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Thirteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 64 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The average annual miles of roads resurfaced or reconstructed by the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will decrease by 24 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • NDDOT estimates that the miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition will nearly double between 2018 and 2021, from 443 miles to 872 miles.
  • TRIP estimates that additional vehicle operating costs borne by North Dakota motorists as a result of driving on deteriorated roads is $250 million annually, or $449 per driver

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA

Approximately one-in-seven locally and state-maintained bridges in North Dakota show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Fourteen percent of North Dakota’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.
  • The average number of bridges that NDDOT is able to reconstruct or replace annually will decrease by 46 percent from 2015-2018 to 2019-2022, largely due to reduced energy-related revenue.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $164 million to replace or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges in North Dakota
  • 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 North Dakota, 46 percent of the state’s bridges (2,030 of 4,377) were built in 1969 or earlier.
  • A recent survey of states by the U.S. General Accountability Office(GAO) found that more than half of states surveyed (14 out of 24) reported that inadequate funding was a challenge to their ability to maintain bridges in a state of good repair.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN NORTH DAKOTA

Improving safety features on North Dakota’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

  • A total of 643 people were killed in North Dakota traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017, an average of 128 fatalities per year.
  • North Dakota’s overall traffic fatality rate in 2016 of 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is below the national average of 1.18.
  • The fatality rate on North Dakota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 is more than four times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.42).
  • 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; the use of high-friction surfacing treatment to improve skid resistance; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; improved road markings; improved signage and delineation at curves; and, improved intersection design.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN NORTH DAKOTA

The current federal surface transportation program, which expires in 2020, falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. Boosting federal surface transportation spending will require that Congress provide a long-term and sustainable source of funding to support the federal Highway Trust Fund. 

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process.  But, the FAST Act, which expires in 2020, does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
  • Crafting a long-term federal highway and transit program to replace the expiring FAST Act in 2020 would likely require Congress to identify a long-term, sustainable source of funding to support increased funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which currently has a balance of $44 billion, but which is expected to reach a negative balance by 2021.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTH DAKOTA

The efficiency of North Dakota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy.  A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.  The design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in North Dakota are significant sources of employment in the state.  

  • Annually, $106 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Dakota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-four percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in North Dakota are carried by trucks and another 11 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in North Dakota support 13,258 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $667 million annually.
  • Approximately 215,200 full-time jobs in North Dakota in key industries like energy, tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor in a 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.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  All data used in the report are the most recent available.  

TRIP Reports: OHIO MOTORISTS LOSE A TOTAL OF $12 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES

OHIO MOTORISTS LOSE A TOTAL OF $12 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES– AS MUCH AS $2,180 PER DRIVER. INCREASED INVESTMENT HAS ALLOWED SOME COLUMBUS TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS TO MOVE FORWARD, BUT MANY REMAIN STALLED DUE TO LACK OF FUNDING

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Ohio motorists a total of $12 billion statewide annually – as much a $2,180 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Ohio, according to a new report released todayby TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

The TRIP report, Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,”finds that throughout Ohio, approximately one-third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, and increasing congestion is causing significant delays for commuters and businesses. TRIP’s report examines the impact of additional funds provided largely by the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, and documents the state’s significant short-term and long-term transportation funding shortfalls. It includes lists of needed transportation projects in the state’s largest urban areas that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and needed projects in each area that lack funding to proceed.

The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Cincinnati, Cleveland-Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo urban areas. These costs come in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas along with a statewide total is below.

While the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) was able to invest $2 billion in the state’s transportation system in 2017 and $2.35 billion in 2018, investment is set to drop to $1.85 billion in 2019 and to $1.7 billion in 2021. ODOT estimates it will face a transportation funding shortfall of $14 billion through 2040. Additional investment has allowed the state to move forward with needed transportation projects, but many projects remain stalled due to a lack of available funding. The chart below details projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and projects that lack funding to proceed prior to 2023.

The TRIP report finds that 23 percent of Ohio’s major urban roads are in poor condition and 12 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers a total of $3.5 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“The serious and in some cases horrendous condition of transportation infrastructure warrants immediate discussion and attention at the local, state and federal levels of government,” said Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard. “Our economy and future are directly tied to a transportation system of safe, dependable and efficient roads and bridges. The TRIP report clearly documents the existing condition of transportation infrastructure in Ohio and concisely illustrates the direct impact an efficient transportation system has on a healthy economy.”

Traffic congestion throughout Ohio is worsening, costing drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as much as $1,057 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Drivers in the most congested areas lose 44 hours each year – more than five working days – stuck in traffic congestion.

Seven percent of Ohio’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.

“The TRIP report succinctly outlines current transportation infrastructure conditions and how transportation impacts economic development in Ohio,” said Brian O. Martin, AICP, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. “Businesses look to relocate and grow in a region with a robust transportation system and our region continues to lag. Insufficient local and state resources require an immediate increase in federal funding to shore up the region’s deficient infrastructure so that we can compete. Our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. must address this issue sooner than later.”

Traffic crashes in Ohio claimed the lives of 5,360 people between 2012 and 2016- an average of 1,072 fatalities per year. The fatality rate on Ohio’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 was approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.71).

The efficiency and condition of Ohio’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $1.1 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Ohio, 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 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.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Ohio’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”

Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System

 

Executive Summary

Ohio’s roads, highways and bridges form vital transportation links for the state’s residents, visitors and businesses, providing daily access to homes, jobs, shopping, natural resources and recreation.  The condition, efficiency and funding of Ohio’s transportation system are critical to quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Buckeye State. Inadequate transportation investment, which will result in deteriorated transportation facilities and diminished access, will negatively affect economic competitiveness and quality of life.

Located within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States and Canada, Ohio can capitalize on its central location by maintaining and modernizing its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network; and, by enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, reliable and safe mobility for residents, visitors and businesses.  Ohio maintains one of the most extensive and heavily traveled transportation systems in the nation.  Ohio ranks second nationally among states in the number of bridges, third in the volume of freight carried on its transportation system, and sixth in both miles of Interstate highways and total vehicle miles traveled (VMT).  Making needed improvements to Ohio roads, highways, bridges and transit systems 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.

This report examines the condition, use and safety of Ohio’s roads, highways and bridges and future mobility needs.  Sources of information for this report include the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

DRIVING COSTS IN OHIO

Driving on Ohio’s transportation system costs the state’s motorists a total of $12 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Ohio motorists a total of $3.5 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC). These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Based on research indicating that roadway design is likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of serious and fatal traffic crashes, TRIP estimates that the economic costs of serious and fatal traffic crashes in Ohio, in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor, is $3.9 billion each year. These costs come in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Ohio motorists a total of $4.6 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas as well as statewide.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Ohio has been able to boost its highway investments through the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, but state highway funding is slated to decrease significantly in 2019.  Ohio faces both a short-term shortfall in funding for projects to expand highway capacity and a long-term shortfall in funding to maintain the condition and level of service of its roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems. 

  • The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in its Access Ohio 2040report estimates that the cost of maintaining conditions and level of service on its system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is approximately $55 billion through 2040. However, only $41 billion is anticipated to be available, leaving a shortfall of $14 billion (the highway only shortfall is estimated at $10.6 billion).
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) construction investment in roads, highways and bridges increased from approximately $2 billion in 2017 to $2.35 billion in 2018, largely due to Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, but investment is set to decrease to $1.85 billion in 2019, dropping to $1.7 billion in 2021.
  • Starting in 2014, $1.38 billion in Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds have been made available to ODOT, which to date has committed $928 million to transportation projects.The remaining $452 million in Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds are available to ODOT to commit to transportation projects in fiscal years 2018 and 2019
  • In addition to the required $120 million that is provided annually to Metropolitan Planning Organizations and regional transit organizations, ODOT annually provides more than $300 million in discretionary funding to local governments for road, highway and bridge repairs.
  • The Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) oversees the selection of major projects to be constructed by ODOT. TRAC’s draft 2018-2021 major new construction listincludes 45 highway and bridge projects in Ohio at a total cost of $8.3 billion, of which $2.5 billion in federal, state and local funding is anticipated to be available through 2023, leaving approximately $5.8 billion unfunded.
  • The charts below detail needed transportation projects in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide that have adequate state and local funding identified to proceed by 2023.

  • The charts below detail needed transportation projects in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide that lack adequate state and local funding to proceed to construction through 2023.

IMPACT OF INFLATION ON FEDERAL AND STATE MOTOR FUEL USER FEES

Inflation has reduced significantly the buying power of the federal and Ohio motor fuel user fees, which are critical funding sources for Ohio road, highway and bridge repairs and improvements.

  • The buying power of the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gasoline and 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel motor fuel user fee, which was last increased in 1993, has had its buying power reduced to 10.7 and 14.2 cents-per-gallon, respectively, due to inflation.
  • The buying power of the Ohio 28 cents-per-gallon user fee, which was last increased in 2005, has had its buying power reduced to 18 cents-per-gallon due to the impact of inflation.

POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL TRENDS

Population and economic growth results in increased demands on major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on a state’s transportation system. 

  • Ohio’s population reached approximately 11.6 million residents in 2016, a two percent increase since 2000. Ohio had eight million licensed drivers in 2016.
  • From 2000 to 2016, Ohio’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 14 percent, when adjusted for inflation, compared to the national average of 30 percent.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Ohio increased by 12 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 105.9 billion VMT in 2000 to 118.6 billion VMT in 2016. The rate of vehicle travel growth in Ohio has accelerated since 2013, increasing five percent between 2013 and 2016. By 2040, vehicle travel in Ohio is projected to increase another 20 percent.

OHIO ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in approximately one-third of major urban roads and highways in Ohio having pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Twenty-three percent of Ohio’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 12 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Thirteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 52 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major urban roads inthe state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN OHIO

One-in-fourteen locally and state-maintained bridges in Ohio show significant deterioration and are rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Statewide, seven percent of Ohio’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. 
  • Since 2013, ODOT has invested $140 million to repair and replace hundreds of deteriorating bridges owned by local governments through the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program.

OHIO TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Ohio, particularly in larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion annually for the average driver in Ohio’s largest urban areas. It also includes the cost of congestion per motorist, in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN OHIO

Improving safety features on Ohio’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

  • A total of 5,360 people were killed in Ohio traffic crashes from 2012 to 2016, an average of 1,072 fatalities per year.
  • Ohio’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.95 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2016 was below the national average of 1.18.
  • The fatality rate on Ohio’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 was approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.71).
  • 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.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN OHIO

The current federal surface transportation program, which expires in 2020, falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The Trump Administration has released a plan to increase investment in infrastructure, which includes surface transportation, by $1.5 trillion.  Boosting federal surface transportation spending will require that Congress provide a long-term and sustainable source of funding to support the federal Highway Trust Fund.

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process.  But, the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
  • President Trump released an infrastructure investment plan in February 2018 that would provide $200 billion in new federal grants and loans over 10 years to leverage $1.5 trillion in total project spending nationwide, relying on state and local governments to raise the additional $1.3 trillion.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN OHIO

The efficiency of Ohio’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy.  A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.  The design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in Ohio is a significant source of employment in the state.  

  • Annually, $1.1 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Ohio, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-eight percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Ohio are carried by trucks and another 12 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Ohio supports 132,374 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $5.5 billion annually.
  • Approximately 2.4 million full-time jobs in Ohio in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
  • 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.
  • Highwayaccessibility 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.
  • The Federal Highway Administrationestimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow. 

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

 

 

TRIP Report: North Carolina’s current level of transportation funding will not be enough to make needed improvements

North Carolina’s current level of transportation funding will not be enough to make needed improvements to the state’s transportation system to accommodate current and future levels of population, travel and economic growth. This is according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. Over the next decade, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will have funds available for only 17 percent of needed transportation projects.

The TRIP report, Keeping North Carolina Mobile: Progress and Challenges in Providing an Efficient, Safe and Well-Maintained Transportation System,” examines road and bridge conditions, travel trends, economic development, highway safety and transportation funding. Since 2000, the state’s population has grown 26 percent and is projected to increase another 20 percent by 2035. Vehicle miles of travel (VMT) in North Carolina increased 29 percent from 2000 to 2016 — the ninth highest rate of growth nationally. And, from just 2013 to 2016, VMT in North Carolina has increased by 10 percent. VMT in North Carolina is projected to increase another 25 percent by 2030.

Eighteen percent of North Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 26 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-two percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 34 percent are rated in good condition. Long-term repair costs increase significantly when road and bridge maintenance is deferred, as road and bridge deterioration accelerates later in the service life of a transportation facility and requires more costly repairs. Every $1 of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges costs an additional $4 to $5 in needed future repairs.

Ten percent of North Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.

“North Carolina has consistently topped the charts as one of the most competitive states for business. That has not happened by accident,” said Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber. “Our state’s leaders have been busy investing in our transportation network to meet the current and growing demands of a dynamic state economy. However, to retain current investments and attract new jobs, investments and expansions, North Carolina leaders must continue to find ways to diversify our revenue streams in order to fund the network for the future.”

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

Traffic crashes in North Carolina claimed the lives of 6,668 people between 2012 and 2016, an average of 1,334 fatalities per year. The number of traffic fatalities in the state increased four percent from 2015 to 2016. North Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.23 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13. The traffic fatality rate on North Carolina’s non-Interstate rural roads was more than four times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state in 2015 – 2.69 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel compared to 0.65. The 2015 national rural non-Interstate fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is 2.14.

NCDOT received requests from state and regional transportation agencies for $53 billion in needed road, highway and bridge projects for inclusion in the 2018-2027 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) but only had funding available to include $9 billion (17 percent) of projects in the 2018-2027 STIP.

NCDOT’s annual 2016 maintenance and performance report found that the Department is currently spending $1.3 billion annually on repairing its roads, highways and bridges, but should be spending a minimum of $1.6 billion annually. Ideally, NCDOT should be spending $1.9 billion annually to improve the condition of its roads, highway and bridges.

“With an already large transportation funding shortfall, North Carolina is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional transportation funding will allow the state to move forward with dozens of needed projects that will provide a smoother, safer and more efficient transportation system for drivers, and allow the state’s businesses to maintain and expand their competitive edge.”

KEEPING NORTH CAROLINA MOBILE:

Progress and Challenges in Providing an Efficient, Safe and Well-Maintained Transportation System

 Executive Summary

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system is critical to a region’s economic growth and quality of life. North Carolina has taken positive steps in increasing the level and effectiveness of its transportation investment, but must go further to ensure that the Tar Heel State gains the benefit of a modern 21st Century transportation system.

North Carolina’s transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With population and employment growing steadily, North Carolina must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and maintain and attract business. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting North Carolina’s need to further modernize its transportation system will require significant local, state and federal funding.

While the state’s transportation funding will experience modest increases in future years as a result of additional state and federal funds, numerous transportation projects in the state — which are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion, improve roadway safety and enhance economic development opportunities — remain unfunded, threatening North Carolina’s future progress in providing a safe, efficient, well-maintained transportation system.

NORTH CAROLINA POPULATION, ECONOMIC AND TRAVEL GROWTH

Population and economic growth have placed increased demands on North Carolina’s major roads and highways, leading to mounting wear and tear on the state’s extensive transportation system.

  • From 2000 to 2016, North Carolina’s population increased by 26 percent, from approximately 8 million residents to approximately 10.1 million. North Carolina had approximately 7.2 million licensed drivers in 2015, a 26 percent increase since 2000.
  • By 2035, the state’s population is expected to increase by another 2 million people to 12.1 million.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in North Carolina increased 29 percent from 2000 to 2016 – from 89.5 billion VMT in 2000 to 115.4 billion VMT in 2016 – the ninth highest rate of increase in the U.S. during this period.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in North Carolina increased 10 percent –from 2013 to 2016, the twelfth highest rate of increase in the U.S. during this period.
  • From 2000 to 2015, North Carolina’s gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 30 percent, when adjusted for inflation. The national level of increase during this period was 27 percent.
  • Based on population and other lifestyle trends, TRIP projects that travel on North Carolina’s roads and highways will increase by another 25 percent by 2030.
  • The current value of the 163,000 lane miles and 13,455 bridges maintained by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is $575 billion.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN NORTH CAROLINA

While 2015 legislation provided a modest increase in state transportation funding and legislation approved in 2013 improved project selection criteria to insure that the most needed projects are funded, the state faces significant challenges in providing a safe, well-maintained transportation system in North Carolina. 

  • Approval of the 2013 State Transportation Investment law improved project selection criteria by implementing a data-driven selection process that insures that the most needed and beneficial projects are chosen.
  • The passage of HB 97 by the state legislature in September of 2015 provided approximately an additional $1.6 billion over 10 years for transportation improvements.
  • The 2015 funding increase was achieved by eliminating transfers from the Highway Fund to the General Fund, raising Division of Motor Vehicle fees (with quadrennial adjustments for inflation on certain fees), increasing the state Highway Use Tax on out-of-state motor vehicle purchases, eliminating an environmental cleanup fund, and allowing municipalities to increase their vehicle sales tax.
  • Further increases in vehicle fuel efficiency and hybrid and electric vehicle use may reduce the ability of federal and state motor fuel taxes to raise future transportation revenues.
  • Over the next decade, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is only able to fund 17 percent of the transportation projects needed to relieve traffic congestion, support economic development, improve traffic safety and improve the conditions of state roads, highways and bridges.
  • NCDOT received requests from state and regional transportation agencies for $53 billion in needed road, highway and bridge projects for inclusion in their 2018-2027 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) but only had funding available to include $9 billion (17 percent) of projects in their 2018-2027 STIP.
  • NCDOT’s annual 2016 maintenance and performance report found that the Department is currently spending $1.3 billion annually on repairing its roads, highways and bridges, but should be spending a minimum of $1.6 billion annually. Ideally NCDOT should be spending $1.9 billion annually to improve the condition of its roads, highway and bridges.

PAVEMENT CONDITIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in 44 percent of locally and state-maintained urban roads in North Carolina having pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by NCDOT on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Pavement data for Interstate highways and other principal arterials is collected for all system mileage, whereas pavement data for minor arterial and all collector roads and highways is based on sampling portions of roadways as prescribed by FHWA to ensure that the data collected is adequate to provide an accurate assessment of pavement conditions on these roads and highways.
  • Eighteen percent of North Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 26 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-two percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 34 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Overall, 13 percent of North Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 23 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-one percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 43 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major, locally and state-maintained roads and highways in the state’s largest urban areas:

  • Long-term repair costs increase significantly when road and bridge maintenance is deferred, as road and bridge deterioration accelerates later in the service life of a transportation facility and requires more costly repairs. A report on maintaining pavements found that every $1 of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges costs an additional $4 to $5 in needed future repairs.

CONGESTION LEVELS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in North Carolina, particularly in the state’s larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • 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.
  • The chart below details the number of hours the average driver loses annually and the total amount of fuel wasted annually due to congestion in the state’s largest urban areas.

  

NORTH CAROLINA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

One in ten locally and state-maintained bridges in North Carolina show significant deterioration and are in need of repair. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Ten percent of North Carolina’s locally and state-maintained 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.
  • The chart below details the total number of bridges and share of structurally deficient bridges in North Carolina’s largest urban areas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY IN NORTH CAROLINA

Improving safety features on the state’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious crashes.

  • Between 2012 and 2016, 6,668 people were killed in traffic crashes in North Carolina, an average of 1,334 fatalities per year.
  • The number of traffic fatalities in North Carolina in 2016 increased by four percent from the previous year, increasing from 1,387 traffic fatalities in 2015 to 1,440 in 2016.
  • North Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.23 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2015 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
  • The traffic fatality rate on North Carolina’s non-Interstate rural roads in 2015 was more than four times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state – 2.69 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel compared to 0.65. The 2015 national rural non-Interstate fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is 2.14.
  • The chart below details the average number of fatalities from 2013 to 2015 in the state’s largest urban areas.

  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over 20 years.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTH CAROLINA

The efficiency of North Carolina’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and reliable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $704 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in North Carolina, with 84 percent of the freight tonnage being shipped by trucks.
  • 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.
  • An analysis of the planned completion of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway to form part of I-74 found that it would result in an additional $135 million annually in additional economic output in Forsyth County and an additional $135 million annually in additional economic output in Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Randolph, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • TheFederal 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.

BENEFITS OF TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS

According to a 2012 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 report, “Interactions Between Transportation Capacity, Economic Systems and Land Use,” prepared by the Strategic Highway Research Program for the Transportation Research Board, reviewed 100 projects, costing a minimum of $10 million, which expanded transportation capacity either to relieve congestion or enhance access.
  • The projects analyzed in the report were completed no later than 2005 and included a wide variety of urban and rural projects, including the expansion or addition of major highways, beltways, connectors, bypasses, bridges, interchanges, industrial access roads, intermodal freight terminals and intermodal passenger terminals.
  • The expanded capacity provided by the projects resulted in improved access, which contributed to reduced travel-related costs, faster and more reliable travel, 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 transportation capacity expansion unfolded over several years and that the extent of the benefits were impacted by other factors including: the presence of complementary 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.
  • According to the 2015 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance report submitted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to Congress, the nation faces an $836 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements to the nation’s roads, highways and bridges.
  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRIP Reports: Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall

Minnesota Faces $2.8 Billion Transportation Funding Shortfall, Leading To Increasingly Deteriorated & Congested Roads Amid Declining Transportation Funding. Between $779 Million To $1 Billion In Needed Projects Outside Major Urban Areas Not Able To Move Forward

Amid a declining level of funding available for maintenance and improvement to the state’s roads and bridges, Minnesota faces a $2.8 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next four years, leading to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, a lack of safety improvements, and increasing congestion due to increases in vehicle travel. This is according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. TRIP’s report identifies unfunded transportation projects in areas outside the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas, costing between $779 million and $1 billion, that are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety. The amount of funding available for road maintenance and improvements by the state, counties and municipalities is projected to decrease by 16 percent from FY2016 to FY2021.

The TRIP report, Moving Minnesota Forward: Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” examines road and bridge conditions, travel trends, economic development, highway safety, transportation funding, and the status of needed transportation improvements in statewide and in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth areas.

Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained, urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition. Due to a lack of funding, the number of lane miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

Six percent of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.

“The data is clear,” said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “Minnesota’s transportation system is facing critical needs and the cost of maintaining and improving our network of roads, bridges and transit systems grows every year. It’s time for the Legislature and Governor to compromise and move forward a comprehensive transportation funding package that addresses the needs throughout our state.”

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Minnesota drivers in the state’s largest urban areas lose as much as 47 hours annually as a result of traffic congestion, totaling up to $1,035 in lost time and wasted fuel each year.

The chart below details needed projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. The report also includes needed but unfunded projects in the Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities urban areas.

 

“With an already large transportation funding shortfall and a dwindling level of transportation funding available in the coming years, Minnesota is poised to see increasingly deteriorated and congested roads in the future,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional transportation funding will allow the state to move forward with dozens of needed projects that will provide a smoother, safer and more efficient transportation system for drivers, and allow the state’s businesses to maintain and expand their competitive edge.”

Executive Summary

A decade after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Minnesota’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the North Star State.

Minnesota’s transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

The state faces a $2.8 billion shortfall in funds needed over the next four years to make needed improvements to its transportation system. The annual shortfall during this period is projected to more than double, leaving dozens of needed transportation projects throughout the state stranded on the drawing board and unable to proceed.

With population and employment growing steadily, Minnesota must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and maintain and attract business. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Minnesota’s need to further modernize its transportation system will require significant local, state and federal funding.

Achieving the state’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require additional transportation investments and a commitment to providing roads and highways that are safe, smooth and efficient. While a sound transportation system is key to economic growth and quality of life, numerous transportation projects in the state — which are needed to improve conditions, relieve traffic congestion, improve roadway safety and enhance economic development opportunities — remain unfunded, threatening Minnesota’s future progress in providing a safe, efficient, well-maintained transportation system.

POPULATION, TRAVEL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN MINNESOTA

The rate of population and economic growth in Minnesota has resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

Minnesota’s population reached approximately 5.5 million residents in 2016, a 12 percent increase since 2000. Minnesota had approximately 3.4 million licensed drivers in 2015.

  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Minnesota increased by 13 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 52.6 billion VMT in 2000 to 59.6 billion VMT in 2016. VMT in Minnesota increased five percent just in the last three years (2013 to 2016).
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Minnesota is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Minnesota’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 26 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.

ROAD CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

A lack of adequate funding has left more than a quarter of Minnesota’s major urban roads and highways with pavement surfaces in poor condition. Based on current funding projections, the condition of state-maintained roads is expected to deteriorate significantly in the future.

  • Overall, 15 percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fifteen percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 53 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 35 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twelve percent of Minnesota’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 17 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Fourteen percent of major rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 57 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Due to a lack of funding, the number of miles of state-maintained roads in poor condition is projected to increase by 80 percent from 2015 to 2020, from 535 miles in poor condition to 963 miles.

  • 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.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major, locally and state-maintained roads and highways in the state’s largest urban areas:

BRIDGE CONDITIONS IN MINNESOTA

Six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Minnesota that are 20 feet or more in length show significant deterioration and are in need of repair. The share of state bridges that are deficient is expected to increase at current funding levels.

  • Six percent of Minnesota’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.
  • MnDOT estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by approximately 70 percent between 2016 and 2020, from 23 bridges to 39 bridges.
  • Six percent (706 of 11,016) of Minnesota’s rural bridges are structurally deficient, while four percent (94 of 2,339) of the state’s urban bridges are structurally deficient.
  • The chart below details the total number of bridges and the share of structurally deficient bridges statewide and in each of Minnesota’s counties.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN MINNESOTA

Improving safety features on Minnesota’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. Minnesota’s rural roads have a fatality rate that is significantly higher than that on all other roads in the state. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • A total of 1,922 people were killed in Minnesota traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015, an average of 384 fatalities per year.
  • The fatality rate on Minnesota’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly three and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.40).
  • A disproportionate share of traffic fatalities take place on Minnesota’s rural roads, compared to the amount of traffic they carry. While rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 34 percent of all vehicle miles of travel in Minnesota in 2015, they accounted for 63 percent of fatalities.
  • The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural, non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides. Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes with narrow lanes.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve. While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.
  • Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the amount of funding available and the nature of the safety problem on that section of road.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also by making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services. 
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and, better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior). TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over 20 years. 

MINNESOTA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Minnesota, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion by the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the annual cost of traffic congestion per driver in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND NEEDED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

Minnesota faces a significant and growing transportation funding shortfall. Due to inadequate transportation funding in the state, many needed projects that would improve conditions, expand capacity and enhance traffic safety will not move forward, at least for the next five years.

  • MnDOT projections show that the amount of funding available for maintenance and improvements to roads and highways maintained by state, county and local municipalities will decrease by 16 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2021. The chart below details the declining funds available for roads and highways maintained by MnDOT, counties and municipalities from 2016 through 2021.

 

  • MnDOT projects a $2.8 billion shortfall from fiscal year (FY) 2018 to FY 2021 in state transportation funding for state and locally maintained roads, highways and bridges in funding needed to maintain roads, highways and bridges; improve traffic safety; and, make further modernization and capacity improvements to support economic development and quality of life in Minnesota. By FY 2021, the shortfall is expected to more than double from FY 2018, reaching $835 million. The chart below details the additional amount of funding needed each year to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, modernize the system, and provide additional capacity. 
  • The chart below details needed preservation or reconstruction projects in Duluth, Rochester, Minneapolis-St. Paul and statewide that currently lack adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These include $429-536 million in projects in Duluth, $1-1.4 billion in projects in the Twin Cities, $43-53 million in projects in Rochester and $289-383 million in projects elsewhere in the state.

  • The chart below details capacity expansion or safety projects in the Twin Cities and throughout the state that are needed but will not have adequate funding to start prior to 2022. These projects include $768 million – $1.1 billion in projects in the Twin Cities area and $490-648 million in projects in other areas of the state. 

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN MINNESOTA

Investment in Minnesota’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. Signed into law in December 2015, the five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source. The nation faces a significant shortfall in needed funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.

  • Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process. But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.
  • The five-year, $305 billion FAST Act will provide a boost of approximately 15 percent in national highway funding and 18 percent in national transit funding over the duration of the program, which expires in 2020.
  • In addition to federal motor fuel tax revenues, the FAST Act will also be funded by $70 billion in U.S. general funds, which will rely on offsets from several unrelated federal programs including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Customs.
  • According to the 2015 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance report submitted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to Congress, the nation faces an $836 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements to the nation’s roads, highways and bridges.
  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic safety.

 TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN MINNESOTA

The efficiency of Minnesota’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $519 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Minnesota, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-five percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Minnesota are carried by trucks.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2015 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO),the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.