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TRIP Report: INCREASED DEMAND FOR U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS HAMPERED BY LACK OF ADEQUATE INVESTMENT IN NEEDED HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS

INCREASED DEMAND FOR U.S. FREIGHT SHIPMENTS HAMPERED BY TRAFFIC CONGESTION AND BOTTLENECKS AND LACK OF ADEQUATE INVESTMENT IN NEEDED HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENTS; FATAL TRUCK CRASHES INCREASING AT A TIME WHEN ADVANCES IN VEHICLE AUTONOMY, MANUFACTURING, WAREHOUSING & E-COMMERCE ARE PLACING UNPRECEDENTED DEMANDS ON THE NATION’S FREIGHT SYSTEM

 The ability of the nation’s freight transportation system to efficiently and safely accommodate the growing demand for freight movement could be hampered by inadequate transportation capacity, institutional barriers to enhancing the nation’s freight facilities, a lack of adequate funding for needed improvements to the freight network, and a shortage of drivers, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. This is happening as freight movement is being transformed by advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, increasing e-commerce, and the growing logistic networks being developed to accommodate consumer demand for faster delivery.

TRIP’s report, America’s Rolling Warehouses: Opportunities and Challenges with the Nation’s Freight Delivery System, examines current and projected levels of freight movement in the U.S., large truck safety, and trends impacting freight movement. It concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the nation’s freight transportation system. The chart below shows the states with the highest value of freight by all modes of transportation in 2016, states with the highest share of rural interstate vehicle miles of travel (VMT) by combination trucks, states with the largest average annual number of large truck fatalities per one million population from 2013-2017, and states with the largest projected increase in freight by value between 2016 and 2045.

TRIP’s report found that freight delivery is expected to increase rapidly as a result of economic growth, increasing demand, growing international trade, changing business and retail models, and a significantly increased reliance on e-commerce by businesses and households. Each year, the U.S. freight system moves approximately 17.7 billion tons of freight, valued at $16.8 trillion. Trucks carried 72 percent of freight by value in 2016 and 66 percent by weight. From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. by trucks is expected to increase 91 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 44 percent by weight.

“The new TRIP report again highlights the urgent need for federal action to modernize America’s infrastructure,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “The future of our country’s ability to compete in a 21st century economy by providing the safe movement of commerce is at stake, and this report helps bring a spotlight to the issue.”

The TRIP report also found that 12 percent of travel on Interstate highways and 21 percent of travel on rural Interstate highways is by combination trucks.

“TRIP’s report makes an important contribution to a growing body of evidence that our deteriorating infrastructure is putting the brakes on our economy,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Association. “The cost of doing nothing is too high and will only get higher if our leaders do not step up and put forward a comprehensive investment package backed by real funding.”

While the amount and value of goods being shipped has risen to unprecedented levels, mounting traffic congestion is increasing the cost of moving freight and reducing the economic competitiveness and efficiency of businesses that require reliable, affordable freight transportation. Traffic congestion resulted in $74.5 billion in additional operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016 as a result of commercial trucks being stuck in traffic for 1.2 billion hours.

“Infrastructure issues lead to increased shipping costs, delayed delivery times, and decreased productivity for U.S. manufacturers,” said Doosan Bobcat North America President Mike Ballweber. “Whether it’s a hauling 7,500-pound skid-steer loader to a customer in Georgia or a shipment of attachments to a dealership in Arizona, we depend on the U.S. freight transportation system to deliver our products efficiently and safely. I encourage our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to make transportation infrastructure a priority and fund needed repairs and upgrades to our roads, highways and bridges.”

According to the TRIP report, traffic fatalities as a result of crashes involving large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) increased 20 percent, from 2013 (3,981) to 2017 (4,761) in.  Approximately five-out-of-six people killed in crashes involving a large truck were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash or pedestrians or bicyclists.  The most frequent event prior to fatal crashes between large trucks and another vehicle is the entering or encroaching into a large truck’s lane by the other vehicle.

“It’s clear that the safe and efficient movement of goods and services depends on a well-funded national transportation system,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “Without strong investment from our federal partners, state departments of transportation won’t be able to meet the growing demands on the system.”

Advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation have transformed freight delivery, along with increases in e-commerce and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other large retailers. A lack of adequate parking for large trucks and a shortage of available truck drivers, particularly for long-haul trips, challenge the safety and efficiency of the nation’s freight system.

TRIP’s report concludes with a series of recommendations to improve freight transportation by increasing capacity on the nation’s freight transportation system, particularly at major bottlenecks; improving the reliability and condition of intermodal connectors between major highways and rail, ports and waterways; continued development of vehicle autonomy and the further automation of warehousing; improving roadway safety and providing additional truck parking spaces to ensure adequate and timely rest for drivers; providing funding for freight transportation improvements that is substantial, continuing, multimodal, reliable, and, in most cases, specifically dedicated to freight transportation projects; and, providing a permanent, adequate and reliable funding fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund as a critical step towards funding a 21st Century freight transportation system.

“As consumers demand faster deliveries and a more responsive supply chain, the nation’s freight transportation network is facing unprecedented roadblocks in the form of increasing congestion and a lack of transportation funding to improve the nation’s transportation system,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports needed transportation investment will be crucial to improving the efficiency and safety of our freight transportation system.”

Executive Summary

The nation’s freight transportation system plays a vital role in the quality of life of Americans, providing the timely movement of raw materials and finished products that are vital to the health of the U.S. agricultural, industrial, energy, retail and service sectors.

The amount of freight transported in the U.S. is expected to increase significantly as a result of further economic growth, changing business and retail models, increasing international trade, and  rapidly changing consumer expectations that place an emphasis on faster deliveries, often of smaller packages or payloads.

The ability of the nation’s freight transportation system to efficiently and safely accommodate the growing demand for freight movement could be hampered by inadequate transportation capacity, a lack of adequate safety features on some transportation facilities, institutional barriers to enhancing the nation’s freight facilities, a lack of adequate funding for needed improvements to the freight network and a shortage of drivers.

The need to improve the U.S. freight network is occurring at a time when the nation’s freight delivery system is being transformed by advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, increasing e-commerce, and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other retail organizations in response to the demand for a faster and more responsive delivery and logistics cycle.

This report examines current and projected levels of freight movement in the U.S., large truck safety, and trends impacting freight movement. It concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the nation’s freight transportation system.

U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION TRENDS

The delivery of freight – merchandise or commodities that are moved by a mode of transportation either for a fee or by a private fleet – is expected to increase rapidly as a result of economic growth, increasing demand, growing international trade, changing business and retail models, and a significantly increased reliance on e-commerce by businesses and households. 

  • Freight transportation impacts every business and household. It is critical to the nation’s economy, which depends on efficient freight movement to connect businesses, manufacturers, customers and households with the U.S. and the world.
  • The nation’s 327 million residents, 126 million households, 7.7 million business establishments and 90,000 governmental units are all part of an economy that requires the efficient movement of freight.
  • The freight transportation system in the U.S. relies on an extensive system of highways, railroads, waterways, pipelines and waterways. This system includes 958,000 miles of Federal-aid highways, 141,000 miles of railroads, 11,000 miles of inland waterways, more than 19,000 airports, more than 5,000 coastal, Great Lakes and inland waterway facilities, and 1.6 million miles of pipelines.
  • The nation’s freight system moves a daily average of approximately 51 million tons freight valued at approximately $55 billion. The U.S. freight system annually moves approximately 17.7 billion tons of freight, valued at approximately $16.8 trillion.
  • Trucking accounted for the largest modal share of freight movement in 2016, carrying 72 percent of freight by value and 66 percent by weight.
  • The following chart details modal freight movement in 2016 by value and weight.

  • Modern society is likely to become even more reliant on trucking and other types of shipments as international trade continues to increase, domestic demand for freight movement increases, and commercial and retail models increasingly rely on timely and efficient freight deliveries.
  • From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. is expected to increase by 104 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 44 percent by weight.
  • From 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually in the U.S. by trucks is expected to increase by 91 percent in value (inflation-adjusted dollars) and 41 percent by weight. The following chart indicates the anticipated percentage increase in freight by value and weight from 2016 to 2045, by mode.
  • In 2016, the share of overall U.S. freight shipments to or from another country was 11 percent measured by weight and 21 percent measured by value. By 2045, the share of U.S. freight shipments to or from another country is projected to be 18 percent by weight and 39 percent by value.

IMPACT OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGY ON FREIGHT

Freight delivery is being transformed by a convergence of advances in vehicle autonomy, manufacturing, warehousing and supply chain automation, and by increases in e-commerce and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other large retailers.

  • The development of autonomous trucks is expected to proceed in stages from currently deployed driver assist tools such as cruise control and lane-assist to a level that will allow large trucks to mostly drive themselves with a driver monitoring the vehicle, to full autonomy in certain environments, such as major highways, and finally to full autonomy.
  • Improved automation of manufacturing and warehousing facilities is increasing the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing and increasing the need for timely freight movement to and from sites that are able to operate 24 hours per day.
  • Digitization is significantly improving the efficiency of the nation’s supply chain by allowing freight brokers, carriers, shippers and receivers to exchange real-time data to more efficiently use freight capacity.
  • From 2014 to 2018, U.S. e-commerce increased by 69 percent, from $298 billion to $505 billion, and is expected to increase another 39 percent by 2022, to $706 billion. Since 2016, Amazon has built 20 new distribution centers in the U.S. and continues to expand its logistics system domestically and globally, including the development of truck, aircraft and shipping fleets.
  • Advancements in vehicle autonomy and improvements in vehicle and supply chain automation are anticipated to result in reduced shipping costs.

STATE FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

The health of a state’s economy and quality of life are impacted greatly by the quality and reliability of a state’s transportation system and its ability to provide efficient, safe freight movement.

  • The following chart ranks the 10 states with the greatest amount of freight shipped to or from sites in their state (including to or from foreign locations) by truck and by all modes, measured by value in millions of dollars. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 10 states with the greatest amount of freight shipped to or from sites in their state by truck and by all modes, measured by weight in thousands of tons. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 20 states that are expected to realize the greatest percentage increase in freight (by all modes and by truck only) shipped to and from sites within their state from 2016 to 2045, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the 20 states that are expected to realize the greatest percentage increase in freight (by all modes and by truck only) shipped to and from sites within their state from 2016 to 2045, in weight. Data for all states is available in the Appendix.

IMPACT OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON FREIGHT DELIVERY

Rising levels of traffic congestion are increasing the cost of moving freight and reducing the economic competitiveness and efficiency of businesses that require reliable, affordable freight transportation.   

  • The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) estimates that traffic congestion on the nation’s major highways resulted in the addition of $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016, including 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity as a result of trucks being stuck in traffic.
  • Fifty-three percent of vehicle miles of travel by large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) in 2016 occurred on Interstate highways. Forty-six percent of urban Interstates are congested.
  • Twelve percent of travel on Interstate highways and 21 percent of travel on rural Interstate highways is by combination trucks.
  • The following chart ranks the 20 states in 2017 with the greatest share of vehicle miles of travel on all Interstate highways and on rural Interstate highways which is by combination trucks. Data for all states is available in the Appendix.

  • Using a freight congestion index developed by the Federal Highway Administration, in 2019 the ATRI compiled the following list of the nation’s worst freight highway bottlenecks based on the number of trucks using a particular highway facility and the impact of congestion on the average speed of those vehicles.

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation forecasts that between 2012 and 2045, the miles of major U.S. highways that are congested during peak periods will quadruple from 19,200 miles to 78,500.
  • The following map indicates major highways that carry more than 8,500 large trucks per day and/or on which more than 25 percent of daily traffic is comprised of large trucks.

  • The miles of major highway segments with more than 8,500 large trucks per day and where at least 25 percent of vehicles are large trucks is expected to increase by 140 percent between 2012 and 2045, from 5,560 miles to 13,480 miles.

LARGE TRUCK SAFETY

Traffic fatalities as a result of crashes involving large trucks (10,000 lbs. or greater) increased significantly over the last five years.  Approximately five-out-of-six people killed in crashes involving a large truck were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash or pedestrians or bicyclists.  The most frequent event prior to fatal crashes between large trucks and another vehicle is the entering or encroaching into a large truck’s lane by the other vehicle.

  • Large trucks account for four percent of all registered vehicles and nine percent of all vehicle miles of travel annually. Twelve percent of traffic fatalities occur in crashes in which a large truck was involved.
  • Approximately three-quarters – 76 percent – of large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes in 2016 weighed more than 33,000 lbs.
  • From 2013 to 2017, fatal traffic crashes involving large trucks resulted in the deaths of 21,114 people. This included 3,582 drivers or passengers of large trucks and 17,532 drivers or occupants of other vehicles, or non-motorists, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

  • From 2013 to 2017, the number of fatalities in large-truck involved crashes in the U.S. increased 20 percent, from 3,981 to 4,761.
  • Eighty percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2013 to 2017 were multiple-vehicle crashes, compared to 61 percent for fatal crashes involving only passenger vehicles.
  • In 62 percent of fatal large truck crashes from 2013 to 2017, the most critical pre-crash event was either another vehicle’s encroachment into a large truck’s lane (38 percent) or another vehicle entering a large truck’s lane (26 percent).
  • A 2018 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that analyzed 2016 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a large truck found the following: in 43 percent of the crashes both vehicles were proceeding straight, in nine percent of the crashes the other vehicle was turning left or right regardless of the large trucks maneuver, in 10 percent of the crashes the truck and the other vehicle were negotiating curves, and in seven percent of the crashes either the truck or the other vehicle was stopped in a traffic lane (five percent and two percent, respectively).
  • In large truck-involved fatal crashes in 2016, two percent of large truck drivers had blood alcohol concentrations above .08 f/dL, while the share for drivers of passenger vehicles, light trucks and motorcycles with blood alcohol concentrations above .08 f/dL was 21, 20 and 25 percent, respectively.
  • Fatal large truck crashes are more likely to occur on rural roads, two-lane roads and roads with speed limits 55 miles per hour or higher.
  • The following chart ranks the top 10 states with the largest annual average number of fatalities in large truck involved crashes from 2013 to 2017. It also includes the average number of large truck non-occupant fatalities, which includes non-motorists, and large truck occupant fatalities. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

  • The following chart ranks the top 20 states with the largest annual average number of fatalities in large truck involved crashes per one million population from 2013 to 2017. Data for all 50 states is available in the Appendix.

CHALLENGES IMPACTING THE FUTURE OF U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

A lack of adequate parking for large trucks and a shortage of available truck drivers, particularly for long-haul trips challenge the safety and efficiency of the nation’s freight system.  

  • A significant lack of adequate truck parking along major U.S. highways reduces the efficiency and safety of freight movement. Tired truck drivers may continue to drive because they have difficulty finding a place to park, or they may choose to park at unsafe locations such as a highway shoulder, exit ramps or vacant lots.
  • A 2014 survey evaluating the adequacy of truck parking capacity in the U.S. found that 38 states reported having truck parking problems, particularly along major freight corridors and in large metropolitan areas. Truck drivers surveyed said truck parking problems exist in all states and 75 percent of truck drivers surveyed reported having difficulty finding safe and legal parking during mandated rest periods.
  • The American Trucking Associations estimates there is a current shortage of 63,000 truck drivers in the U.S. and the shortage is expected to increase to 174,000 by 2026.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING U.S. FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION

Achieving a 21st century freight transportation system capable of efficiently and safely meeting the nation’s freight transportation needs will require implementation of a freight transportation plan that addresses the following infrastructure, institutional and financial bottlenecks.

Infrastructure Bottlenecks

  • Increase the capacity of the nation’s freight transportation system, particularly at major bottlenecks, including portions of Interstate Highways and major trade gateways and corridors, rail facilities and ports, and including the addition of general purpose highway lanes as well as the construction of truck-only lanes when viable, such as the planned addition of 40 miles of truck-only lanes on a portion of I-75 in Georgia.
  • Construct additional intermodal connectors and improve the reliability and condition of intermodal connectors between major highways and rail, ports and waterways. The number of intermodal connectors in the U.S. increased 30 percent from 2000 to 2014 from 616 to 798.
  • Approximately two-thirds (68 percent) of intermodal connectors are congested and 56 percent of intermodal connectors have pavements in poor condition.
  • Continue to develop vehicle autonomy and further automate warehousing.
  • Improve roadway safety, particularly along highways and at major intersections, and provide additional truck parking spaces to insure adequate and timely rest for drivers.

Institutional Bottlenecks

  • Further streamline the planning, review and permitting of transportation projects.
  • Facilitate greater multijurisdictional collaboration on multimodal freight transportation solutions.

Funding bottlenecks:

  • Provide funding for freight transportation improvements that is substantial, continuing, multimodal, reliable, and, in most cases, specifically dedicated to freight transportation projects.
  • Provide a permanent, adequate and reliable funding fix to the federal Highway Trust Fund as a critical step towards funding a 21st Century freight transportation system.

All data used in this report is the most current available.  Sources of information for this report include:  The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), The American Trucking Associations (ATA), The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) the Freight Analysis Framework (FAF), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

 

NEW TRIP REPORT IDENTIFIES NEW YORK STATE BRIDGES MOST IN NEED OF REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT

APPROXIMATELY 11.6 MILLION VEHICLES PER DAY CROSS STATE’S POOR/ STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT BRIDGES; TEN PERCENT OF NEW YORK’S BRIDGES ARE RATED POOR/STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT AND 53 PERCENT ARE RATED FAIR.

Ten percent of bridges in New York State are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, according to a new report released recently by TRIP, a Washington, DC-based national transportation research nonprofit. This includes bridges 20 feet or longer. A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components

The TRIP report, Preserving New York’s Bridges: The Condition and Funding Needs of New York’s Aging Bridge System,” finds that 1,757 of New York’s 17,521 bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition –ten percent. New York bridges that are poor/structurally deficient carry 11,590,945 vehicles per day.  Poor/structurally deficient bridges may be posted for lower weight limits or closed if their condition warrants such action. Deteriorated bridges can have a significant impact on daily life. Restrictions on vehicle weight may cause many vehicles – especially emergency vehicles, commercial trucks, school buses, and farm equipment – to use alternate routes to avoid weight-restricted bridges. Redirected trips also lengthen travel time, waste fuel and reduce the efficiency of the local economy.

Fifty-three percent (9,364 of 17,521) of locally and state-maintained bridges in New York have been rated in fair condition.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound, but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure. The remaining 37 percent (6,400 of 17,521) of the state’s bridges are rated in good condition.

“Maintaining safe and stable infrastructure is critically important to all New Yorkers. Every day, millions of people travel through our state on what are often poor and structurally deficient roads and bridges,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, chairman of the New York State Senate Committee on Transportation. “Now more than ever we need to ensure that we’re dedicating resources to local infrastructure that is desperately in need of repair and maintenance. Taxpayer dollars must be put to work to improve our local community. I will continue to work with local stakeholders and continue to fight for additional funding to improve our roads and bridges.”

The list below details the five most heavily traveled poorly/structurally deficient bridges in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica areas. ADT is average daily traffic. A list of the 25 most heavily traveled poor/structurally deficient bridges in each area can be found in the body of the report. The report’s Appendix also includes the individual ratings for the superstructure, substructure, and deck of each bridge.

“On behalf of our more than 900 Town Highway Superintendents we’d like to thank TRIP for its excellent work highlighting the need for increased funding to stabilize the condition of our state and local bridges,” said Town of Denmark Highway Superintendent Patrick Mahar, president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways. “We commend Governor Cuomo and our state legislators for investing over $450 million in local bridges through the Bridge-NY program. But significant increases are needed in this and other local infrastructure programs to ensure New Yorkers don’t have to continue to drive over deficient bridges.”

The list below details the five poor/structurally deficient bridges in the state’s largest urban areas (carrying a minimum of 500 vehicles per day) with the lowest average rating for the condition of the deck, substructure, and superstructure. Each major component of a bridge is rated on a scale of zero to nine, with a score of four or below indicating poor condition.  A bridge receiving a rating of four or below for its deck, substructure or superstructure is rated as poor/structurally deficient. A list of the 25 bridges in each area with the lowest average rating for the major components of the bridge can be found in the body of the report. The report’s Appendix also includes the individual ratings for the superstructure, substructure, and deck of each bridge.

“The TRIP Report underscores what highway superintendents throughout the state understand the condition of many of our local bridges. Poor bridge condition ratings negatively impact functionality, time of travel, safety, the local economy and the overall experience of the traveling public,” said Dennis S. Davis, president of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association. “With many aging bridges more than 70 years old, not to mention tens of thousands of culverts also requiring immediate reconstruction or replacement, we face a situation in desperate need of increased public investment and a concerted effort on the part of all levels of government to address the funding demands of our aging and ailing transportation systems.”

“New York’s bridges are a critical component of the state’s transportation system, providing connections for personal mobility, economic growth, and quality of life,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without increased and reliable transportation funding, numerous projects to improve and preserve aging bridges in the Capital Region and statewide will not move forward, hampering New York’s ability to efficiently and safely move people and goods.”

Preserving New York’s Bridges

THE CONDITION AND FUNDING NEEDS OF

NEW YORK’S AGING BRIDGE SYSTEM

Executive Summary

New York’s bridges are a critical element of the state’s transportation system, supporting commerce, economic vitality, and personal mobility. To retain businesses, accommodate population and economic growth, and preserve economic competitiveness, New York will need to maintain and modernize its bridges by repairing or replacing deficient bridges and providing needed maintenance on other bridges.  Making needed improvements to New York’s bridges will require increased and reliable funding from local, state and federal governments, which will 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 preserved and enhanced mobility and access.

 

NEW YORK BRIDGES ARE INCREASINGLY DETERIORATED

Ten percent (1,757 of 17,521) of New York’s locally and state-maintained bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient, the 12thhighest rate in the nation.  A bridge is rated in poor/structurally deficient condition if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Bridges that are poor/structurally deficient may be posted for lower weight limits or closed if their condition warrants such action. Fifty-three percent of New York’s locally and state-maintained bridges have been rated in fair condition. A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure. The remaining 37 percent of the state’s bridges are rated in good condition.

The chart below details the number and share of poor/structurally deficient, fair and good bridges statewide and in New York’s largest urban areas.

Every day, approximately 11.6 million vehicles cross poor/structurally deficient New York bridges. The chart below details the number of vehicles in each urban area and statewide that cross a poor/structurally deficient bridge each day.

NEW YORK’S MOST DEFICIENT BRIDGES

The list below details the five most heavily traveled poor/structurally deficient bridges in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hudson Valley, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica areas. ADT is average daily traffic. A list of the 25 most heavily traveled poor/structurally deficient bridges in each area can be found in the body of the report.

The list below details the five poor/structurally deficient bridges in the state’s largest urban areas (carrying a minimum of 500 vehicles per day) with the lowest average rating for the condition of the deck, substructure, and superstructure. Each major component of a bridge is rated on a scale of zero to nine, with a score of four or below indicating poor condition.  A bridge receiving a rating of four or below for its deck, substructure or superstructure is rated as poor/structurally deficient. A list of the 25 bridges in each area with the lowest average rating for the major components of the bridge can be found in the body of the report. The report’s Appendix also includes the individual ratings for the superstructure, substructure, and deck of each bridge.

NEW YORK’S BRIDGES ARE AGING

A significant number of New York’s bridges have surpassed or are approaching 50 years old, which is typically the intended design life for bridges built during this era. The average age of all New York’s bridges is 50 years, while the average age of the state’s bridges that are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition is 70 years.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING AND PRESERVING NEW YORK’S AGING BRIDGES

Maintaining aging bridges becomes more costly as they reach the limits of their design life, challenging state and local transportation agencies to take an asset management approach to 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.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost $3.6 billion to replace or rehabilitate all poor/structurally deficient bridges in New York.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The health and future growth of New York’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $1.3 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New York, mostly by truck. Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested network of roads and bridges. The value of freight shipped from and to sites in New York, when adjusted for inflation, is expected to increase by 154 percent from 2016 to 2045, and by 108 percent for goods shipped by trucks.

A report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the design, construction, and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in New York supports approximately 319,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $9.8 billion annually. Approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York in key industries like tourism, manufacturing, retail sales, agriculture are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Bridge Inventory (NBI), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

TRIP: U.S. RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT GROWTH & CONNECTIVITY

America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food, and fiber. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and states with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads.

The report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Fifteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Seventeen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 47 percent are in good condition. Nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.  Forty-six percent of rural bridges are rated fair.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges for daily life and to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving, American agriculture competitive and rural Americans safe.”

In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, the TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural non-Interstate roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural roads are more likely to have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.

“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”

The TRIP report found that America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty, the report found.  The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017 and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.  The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people who are making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017, the TRIP report noted.

America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food, and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of millions of Americans every day,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act. Making critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

“The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. Our rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”

WWW.TRIPNET.ORG

Executive Summary

America’s rural heartland plays a vital role as home to a significant share of the nation’s population, many of its natural resources, and popular tourist destinations. It is also the primary source of the energy, food, and fiber that supports America’s economy and way of life. The strength of the nation’s rural economy is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system, particularly the roads and highways that link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other countries. The quality and connectivity of America’s rural transportation system support the economy of the entire nation and quality of life for the approximately 60 million Americans living in rural areas.

Good transportation is essential in rural areas to provide access to jobs, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, to access opportunities for health care and educational skills, and to provide links to other social services. Transportation supports businesses and is a critical factor in a company’s decision to locate new business operations. For communities that rely on tourism and natural amenities to help support their economy, transportation is the key link between visitors and destinations.

Roads, highways, rails, and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges: they lack adequate capacity; they fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities; and, they cannot adequately support growing freight travel in many corridors. Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration, they lack many desirable safety features, and they experience fatal traffic crashes at a rate far higher than all other roads and highways. This report looks at the condition, use and safety of the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, and identifies needed improvements.

Rural areas in this report are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.  Road, bridge and safety data in this report is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition for rural areas, which allows states to use the U.S. Census Bureau definition to identify rural routes or to define rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or more. The following are the key findings of the report.

AMERICA’S RURAL HEARTLAND

Rural America is the primary source of energy, food, and fiber that drives the U.S. economy.  The decline in the rural population has been halted largely due to increasing employment and declining poverty. 

  • The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau definition, 19 percent of the nation’s residents live in rural areas – approximately 60 million people.
  • The nation’s rural areas account for 97 percent of America’s land area and are home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.
  • America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty.
  • The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017, and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.
  • The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017.
  • America’s rural economy is far more reliant on goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing that is the nation’s urban economy.
  • Many of the transportation challenges facing rural America are similar to those in urbanized areas. However, rural residents tend to be more heavily reliant on their limited transportation network – primarily rural roads and highways – than their counterparts in urban areas. Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services.
  • Nineteen percent of the rural population is 65 years or older, compared to 15 percent in urban areas.
  • The movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is likely to continue in the future as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life and desirable natural amenities, while often located within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.
  • The amount of rural tourism in a region is tied partly to the level of highway access. Eighty-six percent of trips taken by Americans to visit rural areas are for leisure purposes.
  • Popular tourist activities in rural America include hiking, golfing, biking, hunting, fishing and water sports. Rural areas are also home to beaches, national and state parks, wineries, orchards, and other national amenities.

RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY RELY ON TRANSPORTATION

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways, and bridges. America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market while supporting the tourism industry and enabling the production of energy, food, and fiber.

  • Freight mobility and efficiency are fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity. Economic growth and stability in rural areas are heavily reliant on the ability to move raw materials into, or the value-added products out of, these areas.
  • Agriculture, food, and related industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, apparel manufacturing and food and beverage stores and establishments — which rely on agricultural inputs — contributed $1.05 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. This represents 5.7 percent of overall U.S. GDP.
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven more jobs in agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • Employment in goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, accounts for 11 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus two percent in the urban economy.
  • Manufacturing jobs account for 15 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus nine percent in the urban economy.
  • A United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) report found that “an effective transportation system supports rural economies, reducing the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, raising the value of their crops and greatly increasing market access.”
  • Trucks provide the majority of transportation for agricultural products, accounting for 47 percent of total ton-miles of travel compared to 37 percent by rail and eight percent by barge.
  • The Council of State Governments found that “rural highways provide many benefits to the nation’s transportation system, including serving as a bridge to other states, supporting the agriculture and energy industries, connecting economically challenged citizens in remote locations to employers, enabling the movement of people and freight, and providing access to America’s tourist attractions.”
  • Transportation is becoming an even more critical segment of the food distribution network. While food demand is concentrated mostly in urban areas, food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy.
  • A highly competitive and efficient transportation system can lead to lower food costs for U.S. consumers and higher market prices for producers due to lower shipping costs, smaller margins, and more competitive export prices.
  • A report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council recommends that governments improve the quality of their transportation systems serving the movement of goods from rural to urban regions as a strategy to lower food costs and increase economic prosperity.
  • A report on agricultural transportation by the USDA found it likely that market changes and shifts in consumer preferences would further increase the reliance on trucking to move U.S. agricultural products.

RURAL CONNECTIONS TO TOURISM AND RECREATION

The condition and quality of the nation’s highway system plays a critical role in providing access to America’s many tourist destinations, particularly its scenic parks and recreational areas, which are mostly located in rural areas.

  • America’s 418 national parks, which are largely located in rural areas, received a record 318 million visitors in 2018, many in personal vehicles.
  • In 2018, domestic and international travelers in the U.S. spent approximately $1.1 trillion.
  • Travel and tourism spending in the U.S. in 2018 supported 8.9 million jobs.

RURAL ACCESS TO ENERGY SOURCES

Travel loads on America’s rural roads are increasing, due partly to the booming energy extraction sector. This has been driven by increases in domestic oil and gas extraction, largely as a result of advancements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has greatly increased the accessibility of shale oil and gas deposits, and the increased production of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to 16.1 billion gallons in 2018.
  • U.S. production of liquid fuels, including crude oil and natural gas, increased 74 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing liquid fuel’s share of overall U.S. energy production (including coal and nuclear) from 48 to 63 percent.
  • U.S. production of renewable energy, including wind and solar, increased 92 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing renewable energy’s share of overall U.S. energy production from nine to 12 percent.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in numerous areas, particularly in the North Central Plains, and increased agricultural production are placing increased traffic loads by large trucks on non-Interstate rural roads, which often have not been constructed to carry such high load volumes.
  • The average travel per-lane-mile by large trucks on rural Interstate highways in the U.S. increased by 33 percent from 2000 to 2017.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: CONNECTIVITY

The potential for additional economic growth in many rural areas is being impeded by the failure to significantly modernize the nation’s rural transportation system and provide for adequate connectivity.

  • Sixty-six U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System (Appendix A).
  • Rural transportation accessibility and connectivity are critical to transportation-dependent business sectors, including the growing energy production sector, advanced manufacturing and tourism. Many jobs located in urban areas also depend on economic input from rural communities.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled, from 165 million to 327 million.
  • The abandonment of more than 100,000 miles of rail lines in recent decades, mostly in rural areas, has reduced access in many rural communities and increased reliance on trucking for freight movement.
  • A report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials(AASHTO) found that connectivity is particularly poor in rural portions of Western states because of the significant distance between Interstate highway routes and the lack of adequate rail service.
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available. Twenty-eight percent of those have very limited service.
  • Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services. Rural residents also assume additional risks as a result of living in areas that may be farther from emergency response services including police, fire or medical assistance.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: SAFETY

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities takes place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate of 0.88 deaths per 100 million VMT on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all VMT in the U.S. in 2017. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 41 percent (15,205 of 37,133) of the nation’s traffic deaths in 2017.
  • The chart below identifies the 25 states that led the nation in the number of rural non-Interstate traffic deaths in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix B.

  • The chart below identifies the 25 states with the highest rate of rural non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on all other roads in the state in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix C.

The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s rural non-freeway arterial roads have two-lanes, compared to 56 percent of urban non-freeway arterial routes.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have narrow lanes. A desirable lane width for collector and arterial roadways is at least 11 feet. Twenty-three percent of rural collector and arterial roads have lane widths of 10 feet or less, compared to 18 percent of urban collector and arterial roads.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve.
  • While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.

Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. Making needed roadway safety improvements would result in a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

  • The U.S. has a $146 billion backlog in needed roadway safety improvements, according to a 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The report found implementing these cost-effective and needed roadway safety improvements on U.S. roadways would save approximately 63,700 lives and reduce the number of serious injuries as a result of traffic crashes by approximately 350,000 over 20 years.
  • The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the nature of the safety problem on that section of road and the amount of funding available.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid-resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, converting conventional intersections to roundabouts, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost-effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES: DEFICIENT ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The nation’s rural roads, highways, and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration. Fourteen percent of the nation’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition, and nearly one-in-ten of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement.

  • In 2017, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition, 21 percent were rated in mediocre condition, 17 percent were rated in fair condition and 47 percent were rated in good condition.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the greatest percentage of rural roads in poor condition in 2017. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in Appendix D.

  • In 2018, nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as poor/structurally deficient. Forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated fair and forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated in good condition. A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, agricultural equipment, school buses, and emergency services vehicles.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the highest share of rural bridges rated poor/structurally deficient in 2018. Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E.

TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA

America must adopt transportation policies that improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with a level of safe and efficient access that will support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity. TRIP recommends the following for an improved rural transportation system, based partially on findings and recommendations made by AASHTO, the National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.

Improve access and connectivity in America’s small communities and rural areas

  • Widen and extend key highway routes, including Interstates, to increase connectivity to smaller and emerging communities to facilitate access to jobs, education, and healthcare, while improving access for agriculture, energy, manufacturing, forestry, tourism and other critical segments of the rural economy.
  • An NCHRP report found that the construction of an additional 30,000 lane miles of limited access highways, largely along existing corridors, is needed to address the nation’s need for increased rural connectivity.
  • Modernize major two-lane roads and highways so they can accommodate increased personal and commercial travel.
  • Improve public transit service in rural America to provide improved mobility for people without access to private vehicles.

Improve rural traffic safety

  • Adequately fund needed rural roadway safety improvements and provide enhanced enforcement, education and improved emergency response to reduce the rate of rural traffic fatalities.
  • Implement cost-effective roadway safety improvements, including rumble strips, shoulder improvements, lane widening, curve reductions, skid-resistant surfaces at curves, passing lanes, intersection improvements and improved signage, pavement markings and lighting, guardrails and barriers, and improved shielding of obstacles.

Improve the condition of rural roads, highways, and bridges

  • Adequately fund local and state transportation programs to ensure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways, and bridges to maintain transportation service and accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

America’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges would be greatly enhanced if Congress is able to provide a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream capable of fully funding the federal surface transportation program.  The current five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs.

  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways, and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety.

 All data used in this report is the most current available. Sources of information for this report include: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Spending Remains Elevated in May, But Private Sector Falters

Nonresidential Construction Spending Remains Elevated in May, But Private Sector Falters, Says ABC
Nonresidential construction spending inched 0.1 percent higher on a monthly basis in May, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today. Spending, which totaled $749 billion on a seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month, is up 3 percent from the same time last year.

Public nonresidential spending increased 0.6 percent for the month and 4.9 percent for the year, while the private sector contracted 0.3 percent for the month but increased 1.8 percent year-over-year. The dip in private sector is spending is largely attributable to a 2.3 percent decrease in manufacturing-related spending.

“The prediction has been that publicly financed construction spending would rise in America,” said ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The logic of this is rooted in two basic factors. The first is that the ongoing economic expansion, now in its 10th year, has steadily improved fiscal conditions in state and local government.  With more money to spend, more communities are empowered to deal with deferred maintenance and even to expand the capacity of certain key infrastructure, whether roads, mass transit, wastewater treatment plants or water systems.

“The other factor relates to a political cycle,” said Basu. “Increasingly, policymakers have been making the case—and much of the electorate seems convinced—that stepped-up infrastructure investment is needed. Accordingly, in recent years, 31 states have expanded their transportation funding, including 24 of them by raising state gas taxes. Not surprisingly, public construction spending is higher on month-over-month and year-over-year bases.

“What has been less clear is whether privately financed construction would continue to rise,” said Basu. “While the economy remains strong, a number of headwinds have formed, particularly concerns regarding tariffs and trade wars. Construction material prices have already begun to surge, in part because of trade disputes involving materials such as softwood lumber, steel, and aluminum. This increases project costs without offering developers and their financiers any offsetting commercial benefit.

“Moreover, fears of a full-blown trade war between the United States and NAFTA partners, the European Union and/or China have likely resulted in some businesses and investors adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” said Basu. “This helps explain the recent dip in construction spending related to manufacturing. With key interest rates, like the prime rate, also on the rise, the motivation to move forward with projects may be waning. Rising borrowing costs make it less likely that a project will satisfy a given investor’s hurdle rate. Rising labor costs contribute further to this calculus.

“The upshot is that contractors would likely be primary beneficiaries of a less precarious policymaking environment,” said Basu. “Businesses, markets, developers and financiers each prefer certainty. They also prefer input costs that aren’t surging. This strongly suggests that, while private construction spending should remain sturdy during the months ahead given healthy backlog and current economic momentum, the outlook for construction spending may be rather different in a few quarters.”

 

 

Visit ABC Construction Economics for the Construction Backlog Indicator, Construction Confidence Index and state unemployment reports, plus analysis of spending, employment, GDP and the Producer Price Index.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit abc.org

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Spending Plummets in June, Driven by Public Sector

Nonresidential construction spending fell by 2 percent on a monthly basis in June 2017, totaling $697 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors. June represents the first month during which spending has dipped below the $700 billion per year threshold since January 2016.

June’s weak construction spending report can be largely attributed to the public sector. Public nonresidential construction spending fell 5.4 percent for the month and 9.5 percent for the year, and all twelve public subsectors decreased for the month. Private nonresidential spending remained largely unchanged, increasing by 0.1 percent for the month and 1.1 percent for the year. April and May nonresidential spending figures were revised downward by 1.1 percent 0.4 percent, respectively.

“Coming into the year, there were high hopes for infrastructure spending in America,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The notion was that after many years of a lack of attention to public works, newfound energy coming from Washington, D.C., would spur confidence in federal funding among state and local transportation directors as well among others who purchase construction services. Instead, public construction spending is on the decline in America. Categories including public safety and flood control have experienced dwindling support for investment, translating into a nine percent decline in public construction spending over the past twelve months.

“On the other hand, several private segments continue to manifest strength in terms of demand for construction services,” said Basu. “At the head of the class are office construction, driven by a combination of job growth among certain office-space-using categories as well as lofty valuations, and communications, which is being driven largely by enormous demand for data center capacity.

“While there are certainly some parts of the nation experiencing significant levels of public construction, those areas have increasingly become the exception as opposed to the rule,” said Basu. “The more general and pervasive strength is in private segments. Based on recent readings of the architecture billings index and other key leading indicators, commercial contractors are likely to remain busy for the foreseeable future. The outlook for construction firms engaged in public work remains unclear.