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TRIP Reports on Texas’ Most Critical Highway Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life

TRIPTRIP’s New Report Identifies Top 100 Highway Improvements Needed To Support Economic Growth And Quality Of Life In Texas, Including Projects To Address Deteriorated And Congested Roadways, Deficient Bridges, And Needed Safety Improvements

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

The report, Texas’ Most Critical Highway Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life,” identifies the 100 highway improvements most needed to support economic growth and quality of life in Texas, ranked in order as determined by TRIP. These improvements include projects to build, expand or modernize highways or bridges throughout the state in order to accommodate projected job growth and population increases. Making these needed transportation improvements would enhance Texas’ economic development, support a high quality of life, and accommodate projected future growth in population and economic activity. Texas led the nation in job creation in each of the last five years, and the state is expected to add 3.5 million residents in the next 20 years. Completion of these projects would increase mobility and freight movement, ease congestion, improve safety, and ensure Texas remains an attractive place to live, visit and do business. A lack of adequate transportation funding is the constraining factor in developing and delivering these needed improvements.

The TRIP report identifies the most needed improvements in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston, San Antonio and other locations in Texas. The 10 most needed transportation improvements to support economic growth in areas outside the state’s four largest urban areas are detailed below. Additional information about each project can be found in the report.

TRIP TX 1TRIP identified and evaluated each project based on the following criteria: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and, the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.

“Proposition 1 was a clear message from Texas voters that they believe funding our highways is a very high priority,” said Brandon Janes, Chairman of Transportation Advocates of Texas. “We are seeing community leaders across the state urging members of the Legislature to take the next step in addressing the state’s highway funding shortfall.  Our member organizations believe a significant part of the solution will be for lawmakers to approval a reliable, constitutionally dedicated funding mechanism like SJR 5 or HJR 13.  Either approach will provide more than $2.5 billion a year in sustained funding and will keep our state from falling further behind on congestion, connectivity, safety and deteriorating roadways.”

According to the TRIP report, 15 percent of Texas’ major roads are in poor condition, while 41 percent are in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 44 percent are in good condition.

Texas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.38 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.09. The fatality rate on Texas’ rural non-Interstate roads was 2.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the 1.04 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.

Enhancing critical segments of Texas’ transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth. Sustaining Texas’ 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 Texas’ transportation system and addressing these challenges by improving the condition and efficiency of the state’s roads, highways and bridges will be an effective step in boosting the state’s economy, enhancing quality of life and accommodating future growth,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

Texas’ Most Critical Highway

Projects to Support Economic Growth and

Quality of Life

 Executive Summary

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

To foster and sustain the state’s economic growth and accommodate future increases in population and economic expansion, Texas must proceed with numerous projects to improve key roads, bridges and public transit systems. Enhancing critical segments of Texas’ transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth.

In this report, TRIP examines recent transportation and economic trends in Texas and provides information on the transportation projects in the state that are most needed to support economic growth. Sources of data include the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available 

TRIP has identified the highway projects that are most needed to support Texas’ economic growth. These projects are located throughout the state and include projects to build, modernize and expand highways or bridges, as well as improvements and capacity expansion to the state’s rail and public transit systems.

  • The most needed Texas transportation improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Texas an attractive place to live, visit and do business.
  • TRIP identified and evaluated each project based on the following criteria: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and, the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.
  • The most needed highway projects to support economic development, ranked in order as determined by TRIP, have been broken down geographically and are listed below. Information on the following projects may change as they are subject to revisions as part of an ongoing review process.

AUSTIN

  1. Reconstruct and expand a portion of I-35 in Travis County. This $1.9 billion project would reconstruct and expand approximately 27 miles of I-35 in Travis County, from SH 45N to SH 45SE. Expanding this critical portion of the region’s transportation system, which currently has six lanes, would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and would have a high impact on supporting economic development in the region.
  1. Reconstruct and expand a portion of I-35 in Hays County. This $1.5 billion project would reconstruct and expand approximately 24 miles of I-35 in Hays County, from SH 45S to Posey Rd. Expanding this critical portion of the region’s transportation system, which currently has six lanes, would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and would have a high impact on supporting economic development in the region.
  1. Reconstruct and expand a portion of I-35 in Williamson County. This $815 million project would reconstruct and expand approximately 17 miles of I-35 in Williamson County, from SH 130 to SH 45N. Expanding this critical portion of the region’s transportation system, which currently has six lanes, would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and would have a high impact on supporting economic development in the region.
  1. Build overpasses on a portion of SH 71 in Bastrop and Travis Counties. This $102 million project would build overpasses to eliminate all signalized intersections along a 15-mile portion of SH 71 in Bastrop and Travis Counties. This improvement would improve safety and mobility on this corridor and enhance regional economic development.
  1. Extend the US 290 Manor Expressway in Elgin and Austin Counties from Manor to Elgin.   This $540 million project would extend the US 290 Manor Expressway from Manor to Elgin, which would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and enhance regional economic development.
  1. Reconstruct and expand a portion of Loop 1 South in Austin. This $290 million project would reconstruct and expand approximately eight miles of Loop 1 South in Austin from south of Cesar Chavez Street to Slaughter Lane. This project would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and enhance regional economic development.
  1. Reconstruct and expand a portion of the US 183 South Bergstrom Expressway in Austin. This $680 million project would reconstruct and expand approximately eight miles of the US 183 South Bergstrom Expressway in Austin from south US 290 East to SH 71, which would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and enhance regional economic development.
  1. Reconstruct and expand the Oakhill “Y”/US 290/SH 71 in Austin. This $648 million project would reconstruct and expand approximately four miles of the Oakhill “Y”/US 290/SH 71 in Austin from Loop 1 to FM 1826, which would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and enhance regional economic development.
  1. Construct a new highway along the SH 45 SW corridor in Austin. This $100 million project would construct 3.6 miles of highway along the SH 45 SW corridor in Austin from Loop 1 to FM 1626, which would improve connectivity to the region’s highway system and improve regional mobility and safety.
  1. Make operational improvements to a portion of Loop 360 in Austin. This $500 million project would make various operational improvements to a 14-mile portion of Loop 360 in Austin from US 183 to Ben White Boulevard, which would improve mobility and safety along this corridor and enhance regional economic development.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH

  1. Rebuild and widen the I-30/US 80 East Corridor. This $2 billion project would rebuild and widen a 29 mile portion of I-30/US 80 East from I-30 (downtown) and US 80, to Bass Pro Drive. This improvement would revitalize downtown Fair Park and improve mobility for the East Corridor while supporting the economic vitality of East Dallas.
  1. Rebuild and widen US 75 from I-635 to SH 121 (Sam Rayburn Tollway). This $2.5 billion project would rebuild and widen 18 miles of US 75 from I-635 to SH 121 (Sam Rayburn Tollway). This major corridor serves Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen and McKinley while connecting with several other major corridors and serving major employment centers in Richardson’s information corridor.
  1. Reconstruct and widen I-35E from north of I-635 to US 380. This $3.4 billion project would widen 29 miles of I-35E from north of I-635 to US. Completion of this project would provide congestion relief and safety improvements while enhancing mobility and spurring economic development.
  1. Rebuild and widen I-635 LBJ Freeway East from I-30 to east of US 75. This $1.3 billion project would rebuild and widen I-635 LBJ Freeway East from I-30 to east of US 75 in order to accommodate anticipated regional growth along the LBJ corridor. This project would provide for improved connections for the cities of Dallas, Mesquite and Garland, in addition to other communities that access LBJ via other routes.
  1. Reconstruct and expand I-35E Pegasus from north of Oak Lawn Avenue to the I-35E/SH 183 split. This $755 million project would reconstruct and widen three miles of I-35E from north of Oak Lawn Avenue to the I-35E/SH 183 split. This project would relieve congestion north of downtown Dallas while enhancing mobility and economic development opportunities. 
  1. Widen the I-35E/US 67 Southern Gateway. This $2 billion project would widen 18 miles of I-35E/US 67 from 8th Street/I-35E to I-20/FM 1382. The Southern Gateway project provides improved access in southwestern Dallas County while adding capacity to the roadway system, improving safety, and enhancing reliability for residents traveling in this corridor.
  1. Rebuild and widen Loop 12/I-35E from SP 408 to I-635. This $1.2 billion project would rebuild and widen 13 miles of Loop 12/I-35E from SP 408 to I-635. This project would provide congestion relief and safety improvements while enhancing economic development.
  1. Construction of the Trinity Parkway from I-35E to I-45/US 175. This $1.8 billion project would construct the eight-mile Trinity Parkway from I-35E to I-45/US 175. This project would provide a much-needed bypass around downtown Dallas while relieving traffic on I-35E and providing access to the Trinity River and additional activities planned for the area.
  1. Expand SH 183/SH 114. This $3.3 billion project would expand 20 miles of SH 183 in Dallas and Tarrant Counties to include eight general purpose lanes. Currently, this corridor has limited capacity and an outdated design. This project would enhance mobility and promote economic development in the DFW Airport area, as well as in the cities of Irving and Dallas.
  1. Widen a portion of the North Tarrant Express. This $800 million project would widen 1.2 miles of the North Tarrant Express from I-30 to Northside Drive, while adding connections to downtown. This interchange has an outdated design and is heavily congested. This project would improve safety and reliability while relieving congestion and improving access into downtown.
  1. Rebuild and widen the I-20/I-820/US 287 Interchange. This $1.1 billion project would rebuild and widen the I-20/I-820/US 287 Interchange. The current interchange, which serves several major corridors, has an outdated design and limited capacity. This project would improve safety, reliability and travel times for residents traveling in this corridor.
  1. Construct a highway on Loop 9 from I-20 to US 67. This $2.2 billion project would build a new highway on Loop 9 from I-20 to US 67. This corridor comprises one of the segments of the proposed DFW Regional Outer Loop System. This project is needed to address population growth, transportation demand, system linkages and connectivity among existing roadways. It will improve mobility in the area and promote economic vitality in the region.
  1. Reconstruct portions of I-30 Pegasus/Canyon. This $600 million project would reconstruct I-30 Pegasus/Canyon from I-35E to I-45. Completion of this project would relieve congestion south of downtown Dallas while improving mobility and enhancing economic development.
  1. Construct five collector-distributor roads and reconstruct frontage roads on I-35E from I-30 to north of Oak Lawn Avenue. This $650 million project would construct five collector-distributor roads and reconstruct the frontage roads on I-35E from I-30 to north of Oak Lawn Avenue. This project will reduce vehicle weaving from the freeway to the connector-distributor lanes, while supporting the economic vitality of downtown Dallas.
  1. Rehabilitate an overhead portion of I-345 from I-30 to Woodwall Rodgers Freeway. This $185 million project would rehabilitate an overhead portion of I-345 from I-30 to Woodwall Rodgers Freeway. This project will extend the service life of this facility for many years. The route is a main connector between South Dallas and North Dallas and also provides connection to downtown Dallas.

HOUSTON

  1. Reconstruct and expand I-45 from US 59 to BW 8N. This $6.7 billion project would reconstruct and expand 15 miles of I-45 from US 59 to BW 8N, including US 59 and SH 288 in downtown. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and provide economic vitality for the region.
  1. Reconstruct and widen I-69 SW from I-610 to BW 8. This $1.25 billion project would widen 7.5 miles of I-69 from the Houston Galleria area/Bellaire area at I-610 southwest to BW 8. This project will support air quality improvements and provide congestion relief in the Galleria/Bellaire area, while supporting regional connectivity and stimulating development near the Houston Galleria and the surrounding area.
  1. Construct four express lanes on I-610 from US 59 to I-10W. This $250 million project would construct four express lanes on approximately five miles of I-610 from US 59 to I-10W. This corridor has been identified as one of the most congested in the state. This project will support air quality improvement and provide congestion relief, while stimulating further economic development near the Houston Galleria and the surrounding area.
  1. Reconstruct and widen I-10 East from I-610 to SP 330. This $523 million project would reconstruct and widen more than 26 miles of I-10 East from the northeastern portion of downtown Houston at US 59 to the Beaumont District Line. I-10 is one of the Houston area’s Hurricane Evacuation Routes. This project would stimulate economic growth, support air quality improvements, provide congestion relief in eastern Harris County and enhance regional connectivity by continuing the widening of I-10.
  1. Construct four toll lanes on SH 99 from US 59 N to SH 146. This $1.3 billion project would construct four new toll lanes on SH 99 from US 59 N to SH 146. This project would provide congestion relief, air quality improvements, increased safety and enhanced economic vitality for the region.
  1. Reconstruct and expand SH 288 from US 59 to SH 99. This $1.3 billion project would reconstruct and expand 25 miles of SH 288 from US 59 to SH 99. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.
  1. Reconstruct and expand I-45 from NASA 1 to 61st This $1 billion project would reconstruct and expand 25 miles of I-45 from NASA 1 to 61st Street. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.
  1. Reconstruct and expand I-10 from SH 6 to FM 359. This $360 million project would reconstruct and expand 13 miles of I-10 from SH 6 to FM 359. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.
  1. Reconstruct I-10 to add additional lanes from FM 359 to the Brazos River. This $150 million project would reconstruct I-10 to add one main lane in each direction from FM 359 to the Brazos River. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.
  1. Add a dedicated bus lane on I-610 from Post Oak Boulevard to I-10W. This $55 million project would add a dedicated bus lane on I-610 from Post Oak Boulevard to I-10W. This section of I-610, near the Houston Galleria, has been identified as the most congested in the state. This project will support air quality improvement and provide congestion relief and an alternative mode of transportation in the Houston Galleria area.
  1. Reconstruct I-610 connectors and mainline bridge at US 59. This $160 million project would reconstruct the I-610 connectors and the mainline bridge at US 59. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.
  1. Construct four toll lanes and frontage roads on SH 99 from SH 288 to I-45S. This $580 million project would construct four toll lanes and frontage roads on SH 99 from SH 288 to I-45S. This project will continue the Grand Parkway loop around the greater Houston area and connect SH 288 in Brazoria County near Iowa Colony to I-45 in Galveston County near Dickinson. This project will stimulate economic development on this southeastern portion of the Grand Parkway loop and support regional connectivity and additional capacity for mobility in Brazoria and Galveston Counties. 
  1. Construct four toll lanes with frontage roads on SH 99 from US 59S to SH 288. This $626 million project would continue the Grand Parkway loop around the greater Houston area and connect SH 288 in Brazoria County near Iowa Colony to US 59 in Fort Bend County. This project will stimulate economic development on this southwestern portion of the Grand Parkway loop.
  1. Construct toll lanes and frontage roads on SH 249 from Brown Road to FM 1774. This $515 million project would add six toll lanes with two three-lane frontage roads in Harris County, and construct four toll lanes in Montgomery and Grimes Counties. This project provides a connection from the Houston area to the Bryan/College Station area and Texas A&M University. It will relieve congestion, support air quality improvement and stimulate additional economic development in the areas between Houston and Bryan/College Station.
  1. Reconstruct and expand US 290 from SH 99 to FM 2920. This $133 million project would reconstruct and expand approximately 10 miles of US 290 from SH 99 to FM 2920. This project would relieve congestion, improve air quality, increase safety and promote economic vitality in the area.

SAN ANTONIO

  1. Expand I-35 to add four lanes and interchange improvements at US 90, I-10 and I-37. This $900 million project would expand I-35 from US 90 to I-410 to add four lanes and interchange improvements at US 90, I-10 and I-37. This project would provide congestion relief to this important trade and commuter corridor while improving mobility and trip reliability and supporting economic development.
  1. Expand I-35N to add four lanes and interchange improvements. This $1.6 billion project would expand I-35N from I-410 to New Braunfels, to include adding four lanes and interchange improvements at I-410S, I-410N, Wurzbach Parkway and Loop 1604. This project would provide congestion relief to this important trade and commuter corridor while improving mobility and trip reliability and supporting economic development.
  1. Expand Loop 1604 to add lanes and interchange improvements. This $1.1 billion project would expand 35 miles of Loop 1604 from IS 90 to I-35, to add four lanes and interchange improvements at US 90, SH 151, I-10 and I-35. This project would provide congestion relief, improve mobility and support economic development.
  1. Expand I-10W to add two lanes from BS 87 to FM 3351. This $390 million project would expand nearly 13 miles of I-10W from BS 87 to FM 3351 to provide congestion relief, safety enhancements, mobility and economic development opportunities. The northwest area between San Antonio and Boerne/Kendall County is experiencing fast-paced growth causing peak-hour traffic congestion. Many of the current segments of frontage roads are two-way operation, creating safety concerns with increased traffic.
  1. Expand Bandera Road to four lanes from I-410 to Loop 1604. This $330 million project would expand six miles of Bandera Road to four lanes from I-410 to Loop 1604. This congested corridor serves as an important commuter route between SL 1604 and I-410. This project would improve mobility and trip reliability while supporting economic development.
  1. Expand Loop 337 to four lanes from I-35 N to I-35 South. This $160 million project would expand eight miles of Loop 337 to four lanes from I-35 N to I-35 S. It would support economic development and provide long-term congestion relief for this important connection between SH 46 and I-35, while relieving local congestion in the New Braunfels area.
  1. Expand I-35 South to add two lanes from FM 117 to US 90. This $2.1 billion project would expand 68 miles of I-35 South to add two lanes from the LaSalle/ Frio County line to US 90. This important trade corridor experiences increasing truck traffic and mounting peak hour congestion, and has two-way frontage roads that present safety concerns with additional traffic. This project will provide improved safety, mobility and reliability while enhancing economic development opportunities. 
  1. Expand Loop 1604 East to four lanes and improve interchanges. This $495 million project would expand eight miles of Loop 1604 East from I-35 to I-10 East. It would include a four-lane expressway with frontage roads and interchange improvements at I-10 East. This project would provide congestion relief while improving mobility and supporting economic development.
  1. Expand SH 151 to add two lanes from Loop 1604 to US 90. This $270 million project would expand 11 miles of SH 151 to add two lanes from Loop 1604 to US 90. This corridor is an important commuter route between the residential communities on the far west side of San Antonio to downtown, as well as other employment centers in between. Fast paced growth in the area has created considerable peak hour demand and congestion. This project would improve mobility and support economic development.
  1. Expand US 90 to a six-lane expressway with frontage roads from I-410 to SH 211. This $210 million project would expand seven miles of US 90 to a six-lane expressway with frontage roads between I-410 and SH 211. This corridor serves as an important commuter route for the residential areas on the far west side of San Antonio. Fast paced growth in the area has created a need for improvements on US 90. A portion of the existing frontage roads remain two-way, creating safety concerns that would be addressed by this project. It would improve safety, mobility, reliability and economic development.

OTHER TEXAS REGIONS

  1. Upgrade a portion of SL 20 in Laredo to Interstate standards. This $438 million project would upgrade an approximately nine-mile segment of SL 20 in Laredo to Interstate design standards from I-35 to US 59 Business east of Laredo, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement, improve safety and improve air quality.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 59 in Liberty, San Jacinto, Angelina, Nacogdoches and Polk Counties to Interstate standards. This approximately $2 billion project would upgrade a 107-mile portion of US 59 to Interstate design standards from I-69 south of Cleveland to North of Nacogdoches, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Expand a portion of I-10 from four to six lanes from Vidor to the Louisiana state line. This $410 million project would widen I-10 in Orange County from four to six lanes from Vidor to the Louisiana state line. This project will complete upgrading I-10 from four to six lanes from Beaumont to the Louisiana state line. Improving I-10, the major East-West corridor across the Gulf Coast, will improve goods movement in this corridor and stimulate economic development locally, regionally and throughout the Gulf Coast.
  1. Upgrade a portion of SH 44 to Interstate standards in Nueces and Jim Wells Counties . This approximately $600 million project would upgrade a 29-mile portion of SH 44 to Interstate design standards from US 281 to US 77/I-69E, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 59 to Interstate standards in Wharton and Fort Bend Counties. This approximately $475 million project would upgrade a 40-mile portion of US 59 from US 59 Business Route south of El Campo to I-69 west of Rosenberg, to conform to Interstate design standards including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  2. Expand a portion of I-10 from four to six lanes from Winnie to Beaumont. This $290 million project would widen this approximately 20-mile segment of I-10 in Chambers and Jefferson Counties from four to six lanes from FM 1663 in Winnie to CR 131 in Beaumont. Expanding this last four-lane section between Houston and Beaumont to six-lanes would eliminate a bottleneck thus easing congestion and improving mobility on this major East-West corridor in the Gulf Coast.
  1. Expand a portion of I-45 between Dallas and Houston from four to six lanes. This $1.8 billion project would widen from four to six lanes this approximately 112-mile segment of I-45 from the Houston district line to the Dallas district line. Expanding this last critical freight corridor between the state’s two largest urban areas will improve mobility and safety on this corridor and support economic development growth in the region and statewide.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 77 in Willacy, Kennedy, Nueces and Kleberg Counties to Interstate standards. This approximately $600 million project would upgrade a 92-mile portion of SH 77 from I-69 north of Raymondville to I-69 in Robstown to Interstate design standards including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 281 to Interstate standards in Hidalgo, Brooks and Jim Wells Counties. This approximately $900 million project would upgrade a 100-mile portion of US 281 to Interstate design standards from I-69 north of Edinburg to US 281 Business route north of Alice, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 59 to Interstate standards in Victoria County. This approximately $217 million project would upgrade to Interstate design standards an approximately 12-mile portion of US 59 from US 77 to US 59 Business route north of Victoria, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will enhance regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Add an additional lane in each direction on a portion of I-10 in El Paso. This $135 million project would widen this approximately 11-mile segment of I-10 from the New Mexico state line to Sunland Park Drive in El Paso. Expanding this last critical corridor will improve mobility and safety on this corridor and support economic development growth in the region and statewide.
  1. Expand a portion of I-35 in Hill County from four to six lanes. This $100 million project would widen this approximately eight-mile segment of I-35 from I-35 north of Hillsboro to the Dallas District Line. Expanding this last critical corridor will improve mobility and safety on this corridor and support economic development growth in the region and statewide.
  1. Expand a portion of I-35 from four to six lanes in Hill and Johnson Counties. This $220 million project would widen this approximately a 14-mile segment of I-35 from I-35 north of Hillsboro to the Fort Worth District Line. Expanding this last critical corridor will improve mobility and safety on this corridor and support economic development growth in the region and statewide.
  1. Expand a portion of I-10 from four to six lanes in Gonzales, Colorado, Caldwell, Austin, Fayette and Waller Counties. This $1.4 billion project would widen this approximately 103-mile segment of I-10 from the Guadalupe/Caldwell County Line to FM 359 in Brookshire. Expanding this corridor will improve mobility and safety thus supporting economic development both locally and regionally.
  1. Expand a portion of I-20 from four to six lanes in Gregg, Smith, Harrison and Van Zandt Counties. This $727 million project would widen this approximately 90-mile segment of I-20 from the Kaufman County line to the Texas/Louisiana State line. This section of I-20 is the primary route connecting the Dallas/Fort Worth area to Shreveport, Louisiana. Widening this portion of I-20 will reduce congestion, improve safety, improve air quality and support economic development both locally and regionally.
  1. Upgrade a portion of US 77 in San Patricio County to Interstate standards. This approximately $350 million project would upgrade an approximately 15-mile portion of US 77 to Interstate design standards from I-37 to US 77 Business route north of Sinton, including lane widths and limited access. These improvements will improve regional connectivity, relieve congestion, improve regional goods movement and improve safety.
  1. Widen a portion of I-35 in Waco from six to eight lanes. This $393 million project would widen eight-miles of I-35 in Waco from South Loop 340 to North Loop 340 from six to eight lanes. Expanding this corridor will reduce congestion, improve safety and increase freight movement capacity, thus supporting economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
  1. Build a relief highway route for a portion of US 59 in Harrison County. This $328 million project would build a 20-mile, Interstate standard highway from north of Marshall to South of Marshall, which may be designated as a part of I-69. Expanding access in this corridor will improve safety, air quality and mobility, thus supporting economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
  1. Build a Midland relief highway route in Midland County. This $350 million project would build a 21-mile highway relief route from I-20 west of the Midland, re-connecting with I-20 east of Midland. The additional capacity would relieve crowded and unsafe local road conditions and enhance economic development opportunities in the region.
  1. Expanding a portion of I-20 from four to six lanes in Midland and Ector Counties. This $700 million project would widen this approximately 46-mile segment of I-20 from west of FM 866 near Odessa to the east of FM 1208 near Midland. Expanding this corridor will help relieve growing traffic congestion, partly due to increased gas production in the region, and also improve safety on this corridor, thus supporting economic development growth in the region.

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

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • The creation of both short-term and long-term jobs.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or transit capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

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

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

Texas’ transportation system must be modernized and expanded in order to accommodate anticipated population growth and the continued expansion of the state’s economy.

  • From 1990, Texas’ population increased by 53 percent, from approximately 17 million to 26.2 million.
  • Texas’ population is projected to grow by another 3.5 million people to 29.7 million residents by 2035, an increase of 14 percent over the current population.
  • From 1990 to 2013, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 51 percent, from approximately 162 billion VMT to 245 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Texas will increase another 25 percent by 2030.
  • Job creation in the state has remained strong in recent years. Texas has experienced sustained job growth, adding more jobs than any other state in 2014. Texas led the nation in job growth in each of the last five years.
  • Texas has benefited from a diverse economy, which includes significant employment in the following sectors: mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, information technology, finance and petroleum production.
  • Every year, approximately $1.2 trillion in goods are shipped annually from sites in Texas and another $1.2 trillion in goods are shipped annually to sites in Texas, mostly by truck.
  • Sixty percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Texas are carried by trucks and another 11 percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of the deliveries.

Texas’ economy is served by an extensive state and locally-maintained system of roads, highways and bridges that have some deficiencies, lack of adequate capacity to support economic development opportunities and lack some desirable safety features.

  • Texas’ system of 313,228 miles of roads and 52,937 bridges, maintained by local, state and federal governments, carries 245 billion vehicle miles of travel annually.
  • Fifteen percent of Texas’ major state and locally maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition. Forty-one percent of the state’s major roads are rated as either mediocre or fair and the remaining 44 percent are rated in good condition.
  • As Texas’ roads and highways continue to age, they will reach a point where routine paving and maintenance will not be adequate to keep pavement surfaces in good condition and costly reconstruction of the roadway and its underlying surfaces will become necessary.
  • Investing in lower-cost, routine roadway repairs and preservation can extend the life of Texas’ roadways and prevent or postpone more costly repairs and reconstruction. It is critical that roads are fixed before they require major repairs because reconstructing roads costs approximately four times more than resurfacing them.
  • In 2014, 19 percent of Texas’ bridges were rated either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • Between 2009 and 2013 a total of 15,865 people were killed in traffic crashes in Texas, an average of 3,173 fatalities per year.
  • Texas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.38 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is significantly higher than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.09.
  • The fatality rate on Texas’ rural non-Interstate roads was 2.48 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the 1.04 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • 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.

The federal surface transportation program, which is an important source of funding for Texas’ roads, highways and bridges, expires on May 31, 2015.

  • 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.

 

Sources of data include the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

 

 

TRIP Reports: More Than One-Third Of New York Roads Are In Poor Condition, More Than A Third Of The State’s Bridges Are Deficient Or Do Not Meet Modern Design Standards. Conditions And Safety Will Worsen Without Increased Funding

TRIPMore than one-third of New York’s major roads are in poor condition, while more than one-third of the state’s bridges are deficient or do not meet modern design standards, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge conditions, enhance safety, relieve traffic congestion and support long-term economic growth in New York.

The TRIP report, Conditions and Safety of New York’s Roads and Bridges,” examines road and bridge conditions, traffic safety, economic development and transportation funding in New York State. In addition to statewide information, the report also provides regional pavement and bridge condition and highway safety data for Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse.

NY_VOC_TRIP_Infographic_March_2015According to the TRIP report, throughout the state 37 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways are in poor condition. An additional 43 percent of the state’s major urban roads have pavements in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 20 percent are in good condition. Driving on rough roads costs all New York State motorists a total of $6.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC). Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

More than one-third – 39 percent — of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) in New York show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. Twelve percent of New York’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. Twenty-seven percent of the state’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.

New York State’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.09. Traffic crashes in New York claimed the lives of 5,892 people between 2009 and 2013, an average of 1,178 fatalities each year. Where appropriate, roadway 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.

The efficiency and condition of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $550 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New York and another $597 billion in goods are shipped to sites in the state, 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. “Without additional transportation funds, the state’s pavement and bridge conditions will continue to decline, needed safety improvements will not be made, congestion will worsen and the state will lose out on opportunities for economic growth.”

CONDITIONS AND SAFETY OF NEW YORK’S ROADS AND BRIDGES

Executive Summary

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

However, the state’s locally and state-maintained roads, highways and bridges face a significant challenge in the need to improve conditions and traffic safety. As New York works to retain its quality of life, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to preserve, maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition and safety of its transportation network, thus enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to New York’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 reduced vehicle operating costs, improved safety and enhanced mobility.

Meeting New York’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require significant local, state and federal funding.

New York’s major roads have significant deterioration which provides motorists a rough ride and increases the cost of operating a vehicle. Repairing roads and highways while they are in good or fair condition greatly reduces long-term preservation costs because of the high cost of repairing roads in poor condition.

  • More than a third – 37 percent – of New York’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition. An additional 43 percent of the state’s major urban roads have pavements in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 20 percent are in good condition.
  • The following chart details the percentage of major locally-and state-maintained roads and highways in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in each of the state’s largest urban areas.

NY 1

  • Roads in good condition can be maintained by preventive maintenance, which costs approximately $85,000 per lane mile; roads in mediocre or fair condition require resurfacing, which costs approximately $575,000 per lane mile; and roads in poor condition require reconstruction to repair the surface and the base under the road, which costs approximately $1,625,000 per mile – 19 times greater than the cost of preventive maintenance.
  • 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 New York motorists a total of $6.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC). Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • The following chart details the annual extra vehicle operating costs per motorists as a result of driving on rough roads in each of the following urban areas.

NY 2

More than one-third – 39 percent — of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) in New York show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

  • Twelve percent of New York’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.
  • Twenty-seven percent of New York’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.
  • The following chart details the percentage of bridges in each of the following urban areas that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

NY 3

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

  • Between 2009 and 2013 a total of 5,892 people were killed in traffic crashes in New York, an average of 1,178 fatalities per year.
  • New York’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is lower than the national traffic fatality rate of 1.09.
  • The fatality rate on New York’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.15 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, more than three-and-a-half times higher than the 0.61 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • The following chart indicates the average number of people killed annually from 2011 to 2013 in the following urban areas.

NY 4Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.

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

The efficiency of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Increased deterioration of New York’s roads and bridges and the lack of needed transportation improvements to serve economic development threaten the state’s economic vitality.

  • New York’s population reached approximately 19.6 million in 2013, a nine percent increase since 1990. New York had 11,248,617 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in New York increased by 21 percent from 1990 to 2013 – from 107 billion VMT in 1990 to 130 billion VMT in 2013. By 2030, vehicle travel in New York is projected to increase by another 10 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2013, New York’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 46 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
  • Annually, $550 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New York and another $597 billion in goods are shipped to sites in New York, mostly by truck. Seventy-two percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in New York are carried by trucks and another 22 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

A 2014 report by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) concluded that allowing its state’s major roads, highways and bridges to deteriorate would result in significant reduction in job growth and reduced state gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of reduced economic efficiency. The report found that the cost of making needed road, highway, and bridge improvements is far less than the potential loss in state economic activity caused by a lack of adequate road, highway and bridge preservation.

  • The ODOT report used a sophisticated model that integrates transportation, land use and economic activity to compare how an economy operates when a transportation system is well-maintained versus when it is allowed to deteriorate. The report found that deteriorated pavements, which result in a rougher and slower ride for vehicles, and deteriorated bridges, which need to be closed to heavy trucks, reduce economic productivity by increasing transportation costs.
  • The report found that allowing roads and bridges to deteriorate reduces business productivity by increasing vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on rough roads, reducing travel speeds and increasing travel times because of route detours necessitated by weight-restricted bridges.
  • As road and bridge conditions deteriorate, transportation agencies are likely to shift resources from preservation projects, which extend the service life of roads and bridges, to more reactive maintenance projects, which results in higher lifecycle costs, the report found. Transportation agencies are also likely to respond to increased road and bridge deterioration by shifting funds from modernization projects, which relieve congestion and increase business productivity, to maintenance projects.
  • The ODOT report estimated that the road, highway and bridge deterioration anticipated over the next 20 years will result in Oregon creating 100,000 fewer jobs and generating $9.4 billion less in state GDP.
  • Oregon could avoid losing 100,000 jobs and $9.4 billion in GDP through 2035 by spending an additional $810 million more on road, highway and bridge repairs – nearly a 12-to-1 return on investment, according to the ODOT report.

Without additional transportation funding at the local, state and federal level, the condition and safety of New York’s roads, highways and bridges will deteriorate.

  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.
  • Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program.
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from AASHTO. The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utah’s Most Critical Surface Transportation

Projects to Support Economic Growth and

Quality of Life

Executive Summary

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

To achieve sustainable economic growth, Utah must proceed with numerous projects to improve key roads, bridges and public transit systems. Enhancing critical segments of Utah’s transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth.

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

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

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

WASATCH FRONT

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

CENTRAL UTAH

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

PROVO/OREM/MOUNTAINLAND REGION

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

WASHINGTON COUNTY / DIXIE METROPOLITAN PLANNING ASSOCIATION/ SOUTHERN UTAH

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

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

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • The creation of both short-term and long-term jobs.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or transit capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTH DAKOTA’S TOP TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated Pavement Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

·      Twenty-eight percent of township-maintained roads in South Dakota are either closed or in poor condition, 25 percent are in fair condition and 47 percent are in good or excellent condition.   

  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.  In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  •  Driving on rough roads costs all South Dakota motorists a total of $206 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs (VOC). Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Large Share of Deficient Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

  •      Four percent of South Dakota’s locally and state-maintained bridges are functionally obsolete.  Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: High Traffic Fatality Rates

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

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

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

·      Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design.  The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.

·      Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features.  TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.

·      Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.  Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.

·      Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes.  A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

·      Annually, $27 billion in goods are shipped from sites in South Dakota and another $28 billion in goods are shipped to sites in South Dakota, mostly by truck. Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in South Dakota are carried by trucks and another fifteen percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking. 

·      Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.

·      Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Deteriorated roads and bridges hamper economic growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: Inadequate Transportation Funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·      In July 2014, Congress approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, on which states rely for road, highway, bridge and transit funding. The program, initially set to expire on September 30, 2014, will now run through May 31, 2015. In addition to extending the current authorization of the highway and public transportation programs, the legislation will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015. 

·      If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

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

·      The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report also found that the current backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements is $740 billion.

Sources of information for this report include the South Dakota 2014 Highway Needs and Financing Interim Committee, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT), the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, the South Dakota Association of Towns and Townships and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report is the latest available.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Mexico’s Top 25 Transportation Challenges and

Improvements Needed to Address Them 

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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