TRIP Report: MAINE MOTORISTS LOSE $1.3 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES

UP TO $1,561 PER DRIVER. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION AND HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS

 Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Maine motorists a total of $1.3 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,561 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Maine, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit. 

The TRIP report, Maine Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Maine, 44 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, 13 percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 783 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2015-2019. Maine’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. 

Driving on deficient roads in Maine costs the state’s drivers a total of $1.3 billion per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, a list of the most congested corridors, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland urban areas and statewide. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 23 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Maine are in poor condition and another 21 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers an additional $563 million each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. The remaining 14 percent of Maine’s major roads are in fair condition and 42 percent are in mediocre condition. 

“Transportation is fundamental to our safety, economic prosperity, and quality of life,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note.  “The challenges we face due to our chronic funding shortfall have been made worse by the recent drops in travel due to COVID-19 and the resulting reductions in Highway Fund and other transportation-related revenues. Once we have defeated the virus and dealt with the resulting economic fallout, we must work to resolve our structural transportation revenue problems so that we can not only maintain our transportation system, but also improve it with targeted capacity improvements, improvements to villages and downtowns, and measures to address climate change. Investing in transportation is key to moving Maine forward.”

Thirteen percent of Maine’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, the sixth highest rate in the nation. Bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Fifty-five percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 32 percent are in good condition.

Traffic congestion in the state is worsening, causing as much 28 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing up to $568 annually per driver in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, drivers lose $250 million annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion. The TRIP report identifies and ranks the 20 most congested corridors in Maine based on an analysis of delays during typical morning and evening peak travel periods. The ten most congested corridors are listed below.

“Transportation is so critical to the city, region and state.  The impacts of slim budgets, climate change and now the pandemic have greatly impacted our ability to keep up with infrastructure development and maintenance,” said Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow.  “Our economic future is dependent on long term reliable funding for infrastructure.  

From 2015 to 2019, 783 people were killed in traffic crashes in Maine, an average of 157 fatalities each year. In 2019, Maine had 1.06 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, lower than the national average of 1.11.  In 2018, the fatality rate on Maine’s non-interstate rural roads was more than three-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.39 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.37). Traffic crashes imposed a total of $1.5 billion in economic costs in Maine in 2019 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $497 million in economic costs.  

“The pandemic has cast a spotlight on trucking’s importance to our state, as our members have delivered the essential goods and services needed for Mainers to lead their daily lives and for businesses to bring their goods and services to market,” said Timothy Doyle, vice president of the Maine Motor Transport Association. “Having a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system is vital to our members and to the economy of Maine.”

The efficiency and condition of Maine’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $80.5 billion in goods are shipped to and from Maine, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Approximately 283,000 full-time jobs in Maine in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

The Maine State Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission to Study and Recommend Funding Solutions for the State’s Transportation System  found the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of approximately $232 million. Assuming the federal government continues to provide approximately one-third of Maine’s transportation funding need, the state will need to address a funding gap of approximately $160 million. If the annual transportation funding need is met, the Commission recommended that Maine’s existing reliance on bonding to supplement transportation funding should be reduced in a fiscally responsible manner. 

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

Maine Transportation  by the Numbers

MEETING THE STATE’S NEED FOR SAFE, SMOOTH AND EFFICIENT MOBILITY

TRANSPORTATION FACTS 

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Maine roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Maine drivers a total of $1.3 billion each year. TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes. The chart below details the cost of deficient roads statewide and for the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas. 

MAINE ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 44 percent of major roads and highways in Maine are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Maine driver $541 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $563 million statewide.  The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

MAINE BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Thirteen percent of Maine’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, the sixth highest rate in the nation. Bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Fifty-five percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 32 percent are in good condition. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In Maine, 59 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier, the fifth highest share in the U.S. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.

MAINE ROADS ARE INCREASINGLY CONGESTED

Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Maine drivers $250 million each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $568 and as many as 28 hours per year sitting in congestion.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, vehicle travel in Maine dropped by as much as 40 percent in April 2020 (as compared to vehicle travel during the same month the previous year), but rebounded to 12 percent below the previous year’s volume in November 2020.  The TRIP report identifies Maine’s 20 most congested corridor segments during typical morning and evening peak travel periods. The top ten are below.

MAINE TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2015 to 2019, 783 people were killed in traffic crashes in Maine, an average of 157 fatalities each year. In 2019, Maine had 1.06 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, lower than the national average of 1.11.  In 2018, the fatality rate on Maine’s non-interstate rural roads was more than three-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.39 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.37).

Traffic crashes imposed a total of $1.5 billion in economic costs in Maine in 2019 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $497 million in economic costs.  The chart below details the average number of people killed annually in traffic crashes in the state’s largest urban areas between 2015 and 2019, and the cost of traffic crashes per driver. 

MAINE TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

The  Maine State Legislature’s Blue Ribbon Commission to Study and Recommend Funding Solutions for the State’s Transportation System  found the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of approximately $232 million. Assuming the federal government continues to provide approximately one-third of Maine’s transportation funding, the state will need to address an annual funding gap of approximately $160 million, about two-thirds of $232 million. If the annual transportation funding need is met, the Commission recommended that Maine’s existing reliance on bonding to supplement transportation funding should be reduced in a fiscally responsible manner. 

The ability of revenue from Maine’s motor fuel tax – a critical source of state transportation funds – to keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs is likely to erode as a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles.  The average fuel efficiency of U.S. passenger vehicles increased from 20 miles per gallon in 2010 to 24.5 miles per gallon in 2020.  Average fuel efficiency is expected to increase another 31 percent by 2030, to 32 miles per gallon, and increase 51 percent by 2040, to 37 miles per gallon.   The share of electric vehicles of total passenger vehicle sales in the U.S. is expected to increase to five percent by 2023 and to 60 percent by 2040, by which time they will represent approximately 30 percent of the passenger vehicle fleet.

The current federal transportation legislation, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), was set to expire on September 30, 2020. Congress extended it by one year to September 30, 2021. The FAST Act is a major source of funding for road, highway and bridge repairs in Maine. Throughout the FAST-Act – fiscal years 2016 to 2021 – the program provided $1.2 billion to Maine for road repairs and improvements, an average of $197 million per year. From 2014 to 2018, the federal government provided $1.05 for road improvements in Maine for every $1.00 state motorists paid in federal highway user fees, including the federal state motor fuel tax.  

From 2014 to 2018, federal funds provided for highway improvements were the equivalent of 45 percent of the amount of Maine state capital outlays on road, highway and bridge projects, including construction, engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The health and future growth of Maine’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $80.5 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Maine. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Maine, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is expected to increase 99 percent by 2045 and 69 percent for goods shipped by trucks, placing an increased burden on the state’s already deteriorated and congested network of roads and bridges.  This anticipated growth in freight transport in Maine and the rest of the U.S. is 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.  

According to a report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Maine support approximately 18,400 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $609 million annually. Approximately 283,000 full-time jobs in Maine in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maine State Legislature, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Coverage page photo credit: Thinkstock. 

For the complete TRIPMaine Report visit TRIPnet.org