Deficient, Congested Roadways Cost New York State Drivers $24.9 Billion Annually, As Much As $2,798 Per Driver. Costs Will Rise And Transportation Woes Will Worsen Without Increased Funding
Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost New York State motorists a total of $24.9 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,798 per driver in some 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 New York, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “New York’s Top Transportation Issues: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout New York, 38 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor condition. Nearly two-fifths of New York’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, nearly 5,800 people were killed in crashes on New York’s roads from 2010 to 2014.
Driving on deficient roads costs some urban area drivers as much as $2,798 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 roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, New York City, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that 38 percent of major urban roads in the state are in poor, while 42 percent are in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 21 percent are in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs New York State motorists a total of $6.3 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
Traffic congestion in the state is worsening, costing the state’s driver a total of $12.4 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
A total of 39 percent of New York’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Twelve percent of New York’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 27 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
“Today’s TRIP report highlights the poor conditions that New Yorkers across the state face on our roads and bridges every day,” said John Corlett, Legislative Committee chairman at AAA New York State. “In 2015 alone, AAA serviced more than 200,000 flat tire calls throughout New York – many of which were due to potholes and other hazardous road conditions. This is a symptom of the lack of adequate investment in roads. I look forward to working with the Governor and State Legislature to fully fund the needs of our road and bridge system, which will enhance safety and help improve the quality of life for the millions of drivers who travel on our roads and bridges every day.”
Traffic crashes in New York claimed the lives of 5,775 people between 2010 and 2014. New York’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.09.
The efficiency and condition of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $550 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New York and another $597 billion in goods are shipped to sites in New York, mostly by truck.
“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without additional transportation funding New York’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.”
NEW YORK’S TOP TRANSPORTATION ISSUES
Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility
Eight years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, New York’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in New York, 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 Empire 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. Conversely, 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 a wide based economy including finance, manufacturing, technology, communications, printing, entertainment, shipping, publishing, agriculture and tourism, the quality of New York’s transportation system will play a vital role in the state’s level of economic growth and quality of life.
In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation issues faced in New York as the state addresses its need to modernize and maintain its roads, highways, bridges and transit systems.
In December 2015, Congress passed and 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. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) provides approximately $305 billion for surface transportation with highway and transit funding slated to increase by approximately 15 and 18 percent, respectively, over the five-year duration of the program. While the modest funding increase and certainty provided by the FAST Act are a step in the right direction, , the funding falls far short of the level of needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue for the federal Highway Trust Fund.
COST TO NEW YORK MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS
An inadequate transportation system costs New York motorists a total of $24.9 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
- TRIP estimates that New York roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $24.9 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
- TRIP has calculated the average cost to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features. The chart below details the costs to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas.
POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NEW YORK
Population and economic growth in New York have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.
- New York’s population reached approximately 19.7 million residents in 2014, an 18 percent increase since 1990.
- New York had 11.2 million licensed drivers in 2013.
- Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in New York increased by 21 percent from 1990 to 2013 –from 106.9 billion VMT in 1990 to 129.7 billion VMT in 2013.
- Vehicle miles of travel in New York for the first ten months of 2015 were 3.3 percent higher than the first ten months of 2014. During the first ten months of 2015, U.S. vehicle miles of travel were 3.4 percent higher than the first ten months of 2014.
- By 2030, vehicle travel in New York is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
- From 1990 to 2013, New York’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 46 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 65 percent during this time.
NEW YORK ROAD CONDITIONS
A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in more than one third of major urban roads and highways in New York having pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.
- Thirty-eight percent of New York’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 42 percent of the state’s major state and locally maintained urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 21 percent are rated in good condition.
- Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
- Driving on rough roads costs New York motorists a total of $6.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
- The chart below details pavement conditions on major urban roads in the state’s largest urban areas:
NEW YORK BRIDGE CONDITIONS
Nearly two-fifths of locally and state-maintained bridges in New York show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.
- Twelve percent of New York’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
- Twenty-seven percent of New York’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
- The chart below details bridge conditions in the state’s largest urban areas as well as statewide:
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN NEW YORK
New York’s rural traffic fatality rate is approximately three-and-a-half times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state. Improving safety features on New York’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.
- Between 2010 and 2014 a total of 5,775 people were killed in traffic crashes in New York, an average of 1,155 fatalities per year.
- New York’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is lower than the national average of 1.09.
- The chart below details the average number of fatalities in each of the state’s largest urban areas from 2011-2013 as well as the annual cost of traffic crashes for the average driver in each area.
- The fatality rate on New York’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.15 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013, approximately three-and-a-half times the 0.61 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
- Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
- Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
- Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
- Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior). TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.
NEW YORK TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in New York, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.
- Based on Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) estimates, the value of lost time and wasted fuel in New York is approximately $12.4 billion per year.
- The chart below details the annual cost to the average motorist of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of congestion, as well as the number of hours lost annually to congestion by the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas.
- Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.
TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN NEW YORK
Investment in New York’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. 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.
- From 2009 to 2013, the federal government provided $1.45 for road improvements in New York for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
- 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.
- The 2015 AASHTO Transportation 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.
- Vehicle miles of travel in New York were 3.6 percent higher during the first nine months of 2015, compared to the first nine months of 2014. U.S. vehicle miles of travel were 3.5 percent higher during the first nine months of 2015, compared to the first nine months of 2014.
TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NEW YORK
The efficiency of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable 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, $550 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New York and another $597 billion in goods are shipped to sites in New York, mostly by truck.
- Seventy-two percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in New York are carried by trucks and another 23 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.
- 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.
Sources of information for this report include the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).