TRIP: New Report Examines Progress And Challenges In Improving Maryland’s Transportation System, Identifies States Largest Bottlenecks, Evaluates Current Road And Bridge Conditions And Safety, And Notes Recent Mobility Improvements
A new report recently released by TRIP assesses recent improvements undertaken to enhance mobility in Maryland, identifies the state’s top 30 traffic bottlenecks, and evaluates road and bridge conditions and highway safety. While a 2013 state transportation funding boost and the 2015 approval of a long-term federal surface transportation program have resulted in a significant increase in state transportation investment, Maryland still faces a significant challenge in improving mobility, conditions and safety, and supporting long-term economic growth. TRIP is a Washington, DC-based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Keeping Maryland Mobile: Progress and Challenges in Providing an Efficient, Safe and Well-Maintained Transportation System,” finds that throughout Maryland, state-maintained road conditions have improved since 2012 and the number of structurally deficient state-maintained bridges has decreased during that time. While traffic congestion continues to increase, the state has made progress in completing needed projects to improve the efficiency of its transportation system.
Largely due to increased revenue as a result of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, the average annual highway investment in Maryland by the State Highway Administration increased by 85 percent from an average of $810 million annually from 2010 to 2012 to an average of $1.5 billion annually from 2016 to 2018. As a result, the share of state-maintained roads and highways in Maryland in poor or mediocre condition decreased from 30 percent in 2012 (13 percent rated poor and 17 percent rated in mediocre condition) to 24 percent in 2014 (10 percent rated poor and 14 percent rated in mediocre condition). Similarly, the number of state-maintained bridges in Maryland rated structurally deficient was reduced from 97 in 2012 to 69 in 2015.
Maryland has completed a number of congestion relief projects since 2013, including construction of the final section of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), construction of two toll-lanes on eight miles of I-95 from I-895 to MD 43, widening I-70 to six lanes at South Street/Monocacy Boulevard, widening several sections of US 40, and widening and reconstruction of I-695/Wilkens Avenue. Additional mobility improvements completed in Maryland since 2013 include expanded service patrols on major highways, enhanced driver information, improved traffic signal timing, and construction of 11 miles of new sidewalks and 13 miles of marked bicycle lanes.
“From Governor Hogan’s $2 billion investment in highways and bridges to innovative projects and practical design, Maryland is committed to improving safety and reducing hours lost every day to congestion,” said Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete K. Rahn.
Despite efforts to improve the efficiency of Maryland’s transportation system, congestion on Maryland’s roads results in 195 million hours of delays annually and the consumption of 85 million additional gallons of fuel, resulting in an annual cost of $4.1 billion in lost time and wasted fuel. Two of the nation’s 25 most congested urban areas are located in or include parts of Maryland. The Washington, DC metro area, which includes suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, is ranked first nationally in the cost of traffic congestion per commuter, with congestion costing $1,834 per commuter and causing 82 hours of delay annually. The Baltimore urban area ranked 25th in the cost of traffic congestion per commuter at $1,115, with the average Baltimore motorist losing 47 hours annually.
The TRIP report identifies Maryland’s top 30 bottleneck locations, with the top ten bottlenecks detailed below. A full list of the top 30 bottlenecks throughout the state can be found in the report.
Nearly a quarter of Maryland’s locally and state-maintained bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Six percent of Maryland’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Seventeen percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are functionally obsolete, meaning they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
“Despite overwhelming support for choices in meeting our transportation needs, some groups would deny us this choice by aggressively opposing even the most reasonable roadway projects as part of a multi-modal transportation system,” said Tom Calcagni, director of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “That is why the success stories we have heard today, as well the successes of the Wilson Bridge, Mixing Bowl, ICC and other impactful projects, are so important. They show that investments in roadways and bridges can and do make a difference.”
Traffic crashes in Maryland claimed the lives of 2,404 people between 2010 and 2014. Maryland’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.78 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.08. Maryland’s non-Interstate rural roads have a traffic fatality rate of 1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, approximately three times higher than the fatality rate of 0.61 on all other roads.
The efficiency and condition of Maryland’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $445 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Maryland with 75 percent of the freight tonnage being shipped by trucks.
“While Maryland has been able to use increased state transportation funds to improve road and bridge conditions in recent years, congestion continues to mount and a significant amount of additional local, state and federal funding is still needed,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without additional transportation funding, Maryland’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, the state will miss out on opportunities for economic growth, and quality of life will suffer.”
KEEPING MARYLAND MOBILE:
Progress and Challenges in Providing an Efficient, Safe and
Well-Maintained Transportation System
Eight years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Maryland’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Maryland, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Free State.
An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.
With the state’s population and employment continuing to grow, Maryland must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and keep and attract business. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Maryland’s need to further modernize its transportation system will require significant local, state and federal funding.
Maryland has undertaken a sustained commitment to upgrade the condition and efficiency of its roads, highways, bridges, transit systems and pedestrian and bicycling facilities. The Maryland General Assembly’s approval of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 has allowed the state to significantly boost its investment in Maryland’s transportation system.
In December 2015 the president signed into law a long-term federal surface transportation program that includes modest funding increases and allows state and local governments to plan and finance projects with greater certainty through 2020.
This significant boost in state transportation funding, as well as the modest increase in federal surface transportation funding, is supporting increased investment in road, highway and bridge repairs in Maryland and allowing the state to move forward with numerous projects to expand the capacity and/or efficient operations of its transportation system. This increase in transportation capacity and efficient operations will further economic development opportunities and improve quality of life.
Population and economic growth have placed increased demands on Maryland’s major roads and highways, leading to mounting wear and tear on the transportation system.
- From 2000 to 2015, Maryland’s population increased by 13 percent, from approximately 5.3 million residents to approximately 6 million.
- Maryland’s population is projected to increase to approximately 6.9 million in 2040, with the state expected to add an additional 800,000 jobs between 2010 and 2040.
- Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Maryland increased 12 percent from 2000 to 2014 – from 50.1 billion VMT in 2000 to 56.4 billion VMT in 2014.
- Vehicle miles of travel in Maryland in 2015 were 2 percent higher than in 2014.
- From 2000 to 2014, Maryland’s gross state product (GSP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 31 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
- Based on population and other lifestyle trends, TRIP estimates that travel on Maryland’s roads and highways will increase by another 20 percent by 2030.
Traffic congestion places a significant burden on Marylanders, including lost time, reduced economic productivity and wasted fuel. Maryland’s roadways are among the most congested in the nation.
- Congestion on Maryland’s roads and highways results in 195 million hours of delay annually and the consumption of an extra 85 million gallons of fuel, resulting in an annual cost in lost time and wasted fuel of $4.1 billion.
- The share of Maryland’s freeways and expressways that experience heavy to severe congestion is increasing. In 2014, 16 percent of the state’s freeways and expressways experienced heavy to severe congestion during the morning peak commuting hours while 24 percent experienced heavy to severe congestion during the afternoon peak commuting hours. This is up from 16 and 22 percent, respectively, in 2013.
- Two of the nation’s 25 most congested urban areas are located in or include parts of Maryland. The Washington, DC metro area, which includes suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, is ranked first nationally in the cost of traffic congestion per commuter, with congestion costing $1,834 per commuter and causing 82 hours of delay annually. The Baltimore urban area ranked 25th in the cost of traffic congestion per commuter at $1,115, with the average Baltimore motorist losing 47 hours annually.
- The Maryland State Highway Administration identified the top 30 traffic bottleneck locations in Maryland in 2014 by ranking segments of roadway based on the duration, intensity, frequency and average queue length of congestion. The following chart details the top 30 roadway bottlenecks in Maryland in 2014.
Since the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 the state has been able to increase investment in repairing roads, highways and bridges and move forward with numerous transportation projects to improve mobility in Maryland.
- Since passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, the average annual highway investment in Maryland by the State Highway Administration increased by 85 percent from an average of $810 million annually from 2010 to 2012 to an average of $1.5 billion annually from 2016 to 2018.
- The share of state-maintained roads and highways in Maryland in poor or mediocre condition decreased from 30 percent in 2012 (13 percent rated poor and 17 percent rated in mediocre condition) to 24 percent in 2014 (10 percent rated poor and 14 percent rated in mediocre condition).
- The number of state-maintained bridges in Maryland rated structurally deficient has been reduced from 97 in 2012 to 69 in 2015.
- Since 2013, Maryland has been able to complete a number of highway projects to increase the capacity of many of the state’s most heavily traveled routes. The following table provides information on some of the key congestion relief projects completed in Maryland since 2013.
- Maryland has also made significant progress since 2013 in improving the efficiency of its transportation system and expanding facilities for non-motorized transportation. These mobility improvements include:
- Expanding the state’s highway service patrols serving the Baltimore, Washington, Frederick and Annapolis areas to 24 hours a day seven days a week in 2014, which resulted in the patrols responding to 23,000 incidents and assisting nearly 37,000 stranded motorists in 2014.
- Improving driver information services, including upgrading the state’s 511 traveler information service and expanding the state’s travel time information, with nearly 100 message signs in operation throughout the state.
- Improving signal timing on 225 traffic signals.
- Installing 11 miles of new sidewalks and 13 miles of marked bicycle lanes.
Nearly a quarter – 23 percent — of locally and state-maintained bridges in Maryland show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment with the adjoining roadway.
- Six percent of Maryland’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
- A bridge is considered structurally deficient if: 1) any of its significant load carrying elements are found to be in a poor condition due to deterioration and/or damage; 2) it has a low weight restriction; or 3) the adequacy of the waterway opening provided by the bridge is determined to be extremely insufficient to the point that roadway flooding causes intolerable traffic interruptions.
- Seventeen percent of Maryland’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.
Improving safety features on the state’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious crashes.
- Between 2010 and 2014, 2,404 people were killed in traffic crashes in Maryland, an average of 481 fatalities per year.
- Maryland’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.78 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014 is lower than the national average of 1.08.
- The traffic fatality rate on Maryland’s non-Interstate rural roads in 2014 was approximately three times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state – 1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel compared to 0.61, compared to a national average of 2.14 and 0.77, respectively.
- Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features.
- Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
- Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior). TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.
The efficiency of Maryland’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant on an efficient and reliable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.
- Annually, $445 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Maryland, with 75 percent of the freight tonnage being shipped by trucks.
- Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
- Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
- 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 2012 national report, improved access as a result of capacity expansions provides numerous regional economic benefits. Those benefits include higher employment rates, higher land value, additional tax revenue, increased intensity of economic activity, increased land prices and additional construction as a result of the intensified use.
- The report, “Interactions Between Transportation Capacity, Economic Systems and Land Use,” prepared by the Strategic Highway Research Program for the Transportation Research Board, reviewed 100 projects, costing a minimum of $10 million, which expanded transportation capacity either to relieve congestion or enhance access.
- The projects analyzed in the report were completed no later than 2005 and included a wide variety of urban and rural projects, including the expansion or addition of major highways, beltways, connectors, bypasses, bridges, interchanges, industrial access roads, intermodal freight terminals and intermodal passenger terminals.
- The expanded capacity provided by the projects resulted in improved access, which 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 complementary infrastructure such as water, sewer and telecommunications; local land use policy; the local economic and business climate; and whether the expanded capacity was integrated with other public investment and development efforts.
- For every $1 million spent on urban highway or intermodal expansion, the report estimated that an average of 7.2 local, long-term jobs were created at nearby locations as a result of improved access. An additional 4.4 jobs were created outside the local area, including businesses that supplied local businesses or otherwise benefited from the increased regional economic activity.
- For every $1 million spent on rural highway or intermodal expansion, the report estimated that an average of 2.9 local, long-term jobs were created at nearby locations as a result of improved access. An additional 1.6 jobs were created outside the local area, including businesses that supplied local businesses or otherwise benefited from the increased regional economic activity.
- The report found that highway and intermodal capacity projects in urban areas created a greater number of long-term jobs than in rural areas, largely due to the more robust economic environment and greater density in urban communities.
The recently approved five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs. The bill does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source.
- According to the 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report a significant boost in investment in the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs.
- AASHTO’s report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase 36 percent, from $88 billion to $120 billion, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs, based on an annual one percent rate of vehicle travel growth. Investment in the nation’s public transit system needs to increase from $17 billion to $43 billion.
- AASHTO’s Bottom Line Report found that if the national rate of vehicle travel increased by 1.4 percent per year, the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 64 percent to $144 billion. If vehicle travel grows by 1.6 percent annually the needed annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges would need to increase by 77 percent to $156 billion.
Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U. S. Census Bureau, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All data used in the report are the most recent available.