TRIP Report – Maine Transportation By The Numbers…

Key state transportation numbers show how funding shortfall impacts road and bridge deterioration, rural roadway safety and Maine’s economic development and quality of life

At a time when Maine faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $150 million, one-third of the state’s major roads are deteriorated, nearly a third of bridges are in need of repair or replacement, the state’s rural traffic fatality rate is exponentially higher than on all other roads in the state.  And the extra costs that come with driving on deficient roads are being passed along to motorists.  Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge 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 organization.  The TRIP report, Maine Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” provides data on key transportation facts and figures in the state:

 

7

The fatality rate on Maine’s non-interstate rural roads is approximately seven times higher than on all other roads in the state.

 

33%

61%

40%

Thirty-three percent of Maine’s major locally and state- maintained roads and highways are either in poor or mediocre condition. Sixty-one percent of Portland’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, while 40 percent of Bangor major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

 

 

$150 million

Maine faces a $150 million annual shortfall in funds needed to meet the state’s goals for improving road and bridge conditions, improving traffic safety and addressing some traffic congestion challenges over the next decade.

$299

$301 Million

$516

$375

Driving on rough roads costs the average Maine motorists $299 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $301 million each year. The average Portland driver loses $516 annually due to deteriorated roads, while rough roads cost the average Bangor driver $375 annually.

 

169

The average number of people killed annually in Maine traffic crashes over the five-year-period from 2006 to 2010.

 

30

The percent of Maine bridges that are in need of repair or replacement. Fourteen percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 16 percent are functionally obsolete.

 

1/3

TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a factor in approximately one-third of serious traffic crashes.

81

The percent of goods shipped annually by truck from sites in Maine.

 

20

The anticipated percentage increase in vehicle miles of travel in Maine by the year 2030.

1,019,738

The number of licensed drivers in Maine.

According to the TRIP report, a total of 33 percent of Maine’s major state and locally maintained roads are deficient, with 10 percent rated in poor condition and an additional 23 percent rated in mediocre condition. In the Portland area, 61 percent of major urban roads are in either poor (28 percent) or mediocre (33 percent) condition.  A total of 40 percent of Bangor’s major urban roads are deficient, with 18 percent rated in poor condition and an additional 22 percent in mediocre condition.  Driving on rough roads costs  Maine motorists an average of $299 each annually in extra vehicle operating costs – a total of $301 million statewide. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Driving on deteriorated roads costs the average motorist in the Portland area $516 annually in extra vehicle operating costs, while the average motorist in the Bangor area loses an additional $375 annually.

A total of 30 percent of Maine bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards.  According to the TRIP report, 14 percent of Maine’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or are closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency service vehicles. An additional 16 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment with the approaching road.  Bridges that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete are safe for travel and are monitored regularly by the organizations responsible for maintaining them.

“Poland Spring uses Maine’s roads and highways every day of the year.   Having good roads and safe bridges is absolutely critical to our business.   Our fleet travels throughout the state hauling- water from such rural spring sites in Denmark, Fryeburg, St Albans, Dallas Plantation, and Pierce Pond Township to our pants in Kingfield, Hollis and Poland Spring,” said Tom Hathaway, fleet manager of Poland Spring Bottling.  “Many of the roads and bridges on which we travel here in Maine are safe.  But a significant number are in desperate need of repair and upgrades.  The annual cost to repair structural damage to our tanker fleet caused by poor roads in this state is staggering.   We send, on average, 7 tankers per week to the shop to repair stress cracks, which adds unnecessarily to the cost of doing business.   We need good roads to remain competitive in the marketplace.  Passage of The Transportation Bond, Question 4, will help ensure the future of Poland Spring here in the State of Maine. “

Maine’s traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes is approximately seven times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state.  Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.  Traffic crashes in Maine claimed the lives of 846 people between 2006 and 2010. The traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Maine’s non-Interstate rural roads was 1.76 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, approximately seven times higher than the 0.25 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.

“These key transportation numbers in Maine add up to trouble for the state’s residents in terms of deteriorated roads and bridges, reduced traffic safety and constrained economic development,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Improving road and bridge conditions, improving traffic safety and providing a transportation system that will support economic development in Maine will require a significant boost in funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”

Executive Summary

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

As Maine looks to achieve further economic growth, the state will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses.  Making needed improvements to Maine’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long-term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

Meeting Maine’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

Maine faces a significant funding shortfall in the cost of maintaining its transportation system in its current condition. Meeting the state’s need for a well-maintained, safe and reliable network of roads, highways and bridges will also enhance Maine’s economy by creating numerous jobs. 

  • The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) projects that it would need to increase investment by an additional $150 million annually over the next decade to allow the state to meet legislative goals for improving road and bridge conditions, boosting traffic safety and addressing some traffic congestion challenges.
  • A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.

Population and economic growth in Maine have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system. 

  • Maine’s population reached 1,333,074 in 2010, a nine percent increase since 1990, when the state’s population was approximately 1.2 million.  Maine has 1,019,738 licensed drivers in the state.
  • Vehicle miles traveled in Maine increased by 23 percent from 1990 to 2010 – jumping from 11.9 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 14.5 billion VMT in 2010.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Maine is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2010, Maine’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 33 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

One in three miles of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in Maine have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Currently, 10 percent of Maine’s major roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 23 percent of the state’s major roads are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-three percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 44 percent are rated in good or excellent condition.
  • In the Portland urban area, 28 percent of major roads are rated in poor condition and 33 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Nineteen percent of Portland’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 20 percent are rated in good condition.
  • In the Bangor urban area, 18 percent of major roads are rated in poor condition and 22 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-seven percent of Bangor’s major urban roads are rated in fair condition and 33 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The 2010 pavement data in this report is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in the state.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.  In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed. Roads rated in mediocre condition may show signs of significant wear and may also have some visible pavement distress. Most pavements in mediocre condition can be repaired by resurfacing, but some may need more extensive reconstruction to return them to good or excellent condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Maine motorist an average of $299 annually in extra vehicle operating costs – a total of  $301 million statewide. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Portland motorist $516 annually in extra vehicle operating costs. The the average motorist in the Bangor area loses an additional $375 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads.

Nearly a third – 30 percent – of bridges in Maine show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Fourteen percent of Maine’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • Sixteen percent of Maine’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Maine’s traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes is approximately seven times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state.  Improving safety features on Maine’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious crashes in the state. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.  

  • Between 2006 and 2010, a total of 846 people were killed in traffic crashes in Maine, an average of 169 fatalities per year.
  • Maine’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010 is the same rate as the national average.
  • The fatality rate on Maine’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.76 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2010, approximately seven times higher than the 0.25 fatality rate in 2010 on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design.
  • 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 Maine’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of 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, $31 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Maine and another $41 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Maine, mostly by truck.

  • Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Maine are carried by trucks and another 13 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Site Selection magazine’s 2010 survey of corporate real estate executives found that transportation infrastructure was the third most important selection factor in site location decisions, behind only work force skills and state and local taxes.

Sources of information for this report include the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  

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