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ARTBA Reports: Iowa State Gas Increase Signed into Law This Week; 12 States Considering Similar Plans, According to a New Report from the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center

d9cdad69-e8aa-4830-b455-58392c53ea55A 10 cents-per-gallon state gas tax increase signed into law Feb. 25 by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) is the latest in a series of initiatives recently put forward by state governments to boost infrastructure funding, according to a new report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center© (TIAC) found there are currently 90 measures related to transportation funding awaiting action in 26 state legislatures. Among the findings:

  • Twelve states: Ga., Mich., Minn., Mo., Mont., Neb., N.J., S.C., S.D., Texas, Utah, and Wash.—are considering legislation to increase their gas tax or sales tax on gasoline.
  • Four states: Conn., N.H., N.M., and Texas—are considering legislation to protect their transportation funds from diversions.
  • Four states: Ark., Iowa, Mo., and Utah—have proposed legislation to convert their flat-rate excise tax on gasoline to a variable-rate tax.
  • Seven states: Conn., Ga., Minn., N.M., N.Y., Wash., and Wis.—have proposed bonds to pay for transportation projects.
  • Two states with variable-rate gas taxes—Ky. and N.C.—are considering legislation to instate or raise a “floor” on the tax in order to prevent it from collecting below a minimum amount.

State and local spending accounts for just under half of all highway and bridge capital outlays, according to an analysis from ARTBA’s Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. The federal government is the source, on average, of nearly 52 percent of annual highway and bridge capital improvements made by the states.

“Governors and state legislators recognize the negative impacts of deteriorating road and bridge conditions on the local economy, safety and mobility, and are taking action to fix the problem.” Black said.  “At the federal level, Congress should be taking a similar approach to finding a permanent solution for the Highway Trust Fund before highway and transit program funding expires at the end of May.”

The full “State Transportation Funding Initiatives Report” can be found on the TIAC website: www.transportationinvestment.org

ASCE Reports: Utah and Iowa Release Report Cards; Legislatures Look at Transportation Needs

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonThe Utah Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers recently released its inaugural Infrastructure Report Card for the state, giving a GPA of “C+.” The report assessed 10 categories, concluding that Utah’s infrastructure will require an investment of more than $60 billion over the next 20 years. The state’s transportation grades were high, as bridges, roads and transit each earned the grade of “B+.” However, the transportation network still needs an increased investment in preparation for the state’s estimated population growth. In contrast, the state’s lowest grades are for levees, a “D-” and Canals, a “D+.” At the release event, (Salt Lake Tribune, KSL, Deseret News and more), ASCE was joined by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Wasatch Front Regional Council, and Envision Utah calling for fulfilling the plan for the future of Utah. ASCE supports passing a strong funding package for Utah’s transportation future.

 

The Iowa Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released its first state Report Card on Tuesday at the State Capitol, giving the state’s infrastructure the overall grade of a “C-.” With one in five bridges in the state rated structurally deficient, Iowa has the third-highest percentage in the nation, graded at a “D+.” Roads also received a low mark of “C-.” The same day as the grades’ release, both chambers of the state legislature passed a 10-cent gas tax increase in bipartisan fashion. Gov. Terry Branstad signed the state’s first increase since 1989 into law and it will go into effect on Sunday, March 1. The state’s other lowest grades went to inland waterways and dams, both receiving a “D,” while solid waste got the highest mark, a “B+.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Mexico’s Top 25 Transportation Challenges and

Improvements Needed to Address Them 

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or bridge capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure also provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

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

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

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

  • The state will need to expand and modernize key roads, highways, bridges and transit systems to increase mobility and ease traffic congestion, make needed road and bridge repairs, and improve roadway safety.
  • In 2012, 23 percent of New Mexico’s major state and locally maintained urban roads were in poor condition, 41 percent were in mediocre or fair condition, and 36 percent were in good condition. Twenty-one percent of New Mexico’s state and locally maintained rural roads were rated in poor condition in 2012, while 33 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition and 46 percent were rated in good condition.
  • Seven percent of New Mexico’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2014. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • In 2014, nine percent of New Mexico’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards or are inadequate to accommodate current traffic levels, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes. A total of 1,735 people died on New Mexico’s highways from 2009 through 2013, an average of 347 annually.
  • New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.09.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

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

  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.

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

 

Moody’s Investors Service Reports on How Lower Oil Prices Will Impact the US

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

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

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

The TRIP report, Iowa’s Top Transportation Challenges: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Iowa, more than a quarter of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways are in poor condition. More than a quarter of Iowa’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, the fatality rate on Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads is more than three times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

According to TRIP calculations, driving on deficient roads cost Iowa’s drivers approximately $2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear ($935 million); the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion ($380 million); and the financial cost of traffic crashes ($654 million).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Iowa is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge improvements, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”

IOWA’S TOP TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Executive Summary

Iowa’s extensive system of roads, bridges, and highways provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy. Iowa’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

However, the state faces numerous challenges in providing a transportation system that is safe, well-maintained, efficient and adequately funded. As Iowa works to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Iowa’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

Iowa must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all residents. Meeting Iowa’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated Pavement Conditions

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

  • Twenty-seven percent of Iowa’s major urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 50 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 23 percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Thirteen percent of Iowa’s rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 45 percent of the state’s rural roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 42 percent are rated in in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs all Iowa motorists a total of $935 million annually in extra VOC. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Large Share of Deficient Bridges

More than a quarter of locally and state-maintained bridges in Iowa show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Twenty-one percent of Iowa’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • There are a total of 5,022 structurally deficient bridges in Iowa, the second highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, behind only Pennsylvania.
  • Five percent of Iowa’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • In the Des Moines area, 11 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 13 percent are functionally obsolete.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: High Rural Traffic Fatality Rates

Improving safety features on Iowa’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2009 and 2013 a total of 1,803 people were killed in traffic crashes in Iowa, an average of 361 fatalities per year
  • The fatality rate on Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.66 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, more than three times the 0.50 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • Each year, Iowa motorists lose $654 million in the form of the financial cost of traffic crashes, including insurance costs and lost household productivity.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Economic Growth Threatened by Increasingly Crowded Roads

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

  • According to a recently completed study conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice on behalf of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, “Despite Iowa’s well‐developed freight transportation system, the Synchronist survey of industry executives reveals frequent concern about need for highway improvements. It was rated as one of the most serious economic development weaknesses found in Iowa, just behind the availability of skilled workforce.”
  • Iowa’s population reached approximately 3.1 million residents in 2013, an 11 percent increase since 1990. Iowa has approximately 2.2 million licensed drivers.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Iowa increased by 38 percent from 1990 to 2013 – from 23 billion VMT in 1990 to 31.6 billion VMT in 2013. By 2030, vehicle travel in Iowa is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2013, Iowa’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 65 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company to consider expansion or even to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs. 
  • Traffic congestion costs Iowa’s motorist $380 million annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.
  • Annually, $157 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Iowa and another $142 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Iowa, mostly by truck. Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Iowa are carried by trucks and another nine percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

 

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Inadequate Transportation Funding

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

  • The Iowa Department of Transportation estimates the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs.
  • The declining condition of Iowa’s highways and reduced availability of highway improvement funding through the existing gas tax is now among the top concerns of industry executives across the state.
  • Driving on deficient roads cost Iowa’s drivers approximately $2 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear ($935 million); the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion ($380 million); and the financial cost of traffic crashes ($654 million).
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report is the latest available.