TRIP Report: South Carolina Motorists Lose $5.4 Billion On Roads That Are Rough, Congested & Lack Some Safety Features

                                                        

South Carolina Motorists Lose $5.4 Billion On Roads That Are Rough, Congested & Lack Some Safety Features – As Much As $1,850 Per Driver. Costs Will Rise And Conditions Will Worsen Without Increased Funding 

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost South Carolina motorists a total of $5.4 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,850 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 South Carolina, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout South Carolina, two-thirds of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, ten percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient and the state has the highest rate of fatal traffic crashes in the nation. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with vehicle travel in South Carolina increasing 10 percent in the last three years.   

Driving on deficient South Carolina roads costs the state’s drivers $5.4 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 roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson and Myrtle Beach urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 29 percent of South Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while 35 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Nineteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 17 percent are rated in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs South Carolina motorists an additional $1.8 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“This is the year to finish the job on roads,” said Ted Pitts, president of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “The business community has long known the cost of losing when it comes to efforts to invest in our roads and bridges.  We will continue working with members of the General Assembly to give the people of South Carolina what they want and deserve: a long-term investment in our infrastructure, which is a long-term investment in our future.”

The South Carolina Department of Transportation currently spends $415 million annually on road and highway pavement repairs and reconstruction. This represents less than half (46 percent) of the $900 million needed annually to significantly improve the state’s major roads and highways. 

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in South Carolina, 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.

Ten percent of South Carolina’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.

Traffic crashes in South Carolina claimed the lives of 4,406 people between 2012 and 2016. South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. South Carolina’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly four times higher than on all other roads in the state (3.82 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 1.03).

The efficiency and condition of South Carolina’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $333 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in South Carolina, mostly by truck. Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in South Carolina are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

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

SOUTH CAROLINA TRANSPORTATION

BY THE NUMBERS:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility
Ten Key Transportation Numbers in South Carolina

 

$5.4 billion

Driving on deficient roads costs South Carolina motorists a total of $5.4 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and crashes.

Charleston – $1,850

Columbia – $1,716

Florence – $1,283

GSA Metro – $1,379

Myrtle Beach – $1,789

TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional VOC, congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Drivers in the state’s largest urban areas incur annual costs as a result of driving on deficient roads as follows: Charleston – $1,850; Columbia – $1,716; Florence – $1,283; Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson (GSA) Metro Area – $1,379 Myrtle Beach – $1,789.

4,406

881

A total of 4,406 people were killed in South Carolina traffic crashes from 2012 to 2016, an average of 881 fatalities annually.

19%

 

10%

Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Carolina increased by 19 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 45.5 billion VMT in 2000 to 54 billion VMT in 2016. In the last three years (2013 to 2016), VMT in South Carolina increased 10 percent. 

1.89

1st

4X

The fatality rate on South Carolina’s roads is the highest in the nation at 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. South Carolina’s rural roads are particularly deadly, with a fatality rate that is nearly four times higher than on all other roads in the state (3.82 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 1.03).

 

2/3

54%

 

Approximately two-thirds of South Carolina’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Twenty-nine percent are in poor condition and 35 percent are in mediocre condition.  The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) reports that the pavements on 54 percent of state-maintained roads and highways are in need of reconstruction.  

 

46%

SCDOT currently spends $415 million annually on road and highway pavement repairs and reconstruction. This represents less than half (46 percent) of the $900 million needed annually to significantly improve the state’s major roads and highways. 

 

10%

Ten percent of South Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they have significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.

Charleston – 41 hours

Columbia – 38 hours

Florence – 11 hours

GSA Metro – 20 hours

Myrtle Beach – 30 hours

Mounting congestion robs drivers of time and fuel. Annual time wasted in congestion for drivers in the state’s largest urban areas is: Charleston – 41 hours; Columbia – 38 hours; Florence – 11 hours; GSA Metro Area – 20 hours; Myrtle Beach – 30 hours.

 

$1.00 = $5.20

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 and reduced emissions.

Executive Summary

                  The rate of economic growth in South Carolina, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the Palmetto 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 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 an economy based largely on manufacturing, corporate and financial services, agriculture, and tourism, the quality of South Carolina’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life. 

                  In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in South Carolina as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.  

COST TO SOUTH CAROLINA MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

An inadequate transportation system costs South Carolina motorists a total of $5.4 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs South Carolina motorists a total of $1.8 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

·      Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor costs South Carolina motorists a total of $1.8 billion each year in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.

·      Traffic congestion costs South Carolina motorists a total of $1.8 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

·      The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

POPULATION, TRAVEL AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

The rate of population and economic growth in South Carolina has resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system. 

·      South Carolina’s population reached approximately 5 million residents in 2016, a 24 increase since 2000 and the tenth largest increase in the nation during that time. South Carolina had approximately 3.7 million licensed drivers in 2015.

·      Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Carolina increased by 19 percent from 2000 to 2016 –from 45.5 billion VMT in 2000 to 54 billion VMT in 2016.

·      Vehicle travel in South Carolina has increased 10 percent just in the last three years (2013-2016), the ninth largest increase during that time.

·      From 2000 to 2015, South Carolina’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 21 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.

·      By 2030, vehicle travel in South Carolina is projected to increase by another 20 percent.

SOUTH CAROLINA ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in two-thirds of major urban roads and highways in South Carolina having pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.  SCDOT estimates that it has less than half of the funding needed to improve the state’s major roads and highways.

·      The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.

·      Pavement data for Interstate highways and other principal arterials is collected for all system mileage, whereas pavement data for minor arterial and all collector roads and highways is based on sampling portions of roadways as prescribed by FHWA to ensure that the data collected is adequate to provide an accurate assessment of pavement conditions on these roads and highways.    

  • Twenty-nine percent of South Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while 35 percent are rated in mediocre condition.  Nineteen percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 17 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Overall, 16 percent of South Carolina’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while 29 percent are in mediocre condition. Twenty-four percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 32 percent are rated in good condition.

·      SCDOT reports that the pavements on 54 percent of state-maintained roads and highways are in need of reconstruction. 

·      Currently SCDOT spends $415 million annually on road and highway pavement repairs and reconstruction, less than half (46 percent) of the $900 million that is needed annually to significantly improve the condition of the state’s major roads and highways. 

·      The chart below details the share of pavement in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in the state’s largest urban areas.

  • Roads rated in mediocre to poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes.  In some cases, these roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs South Carolina motorists a total of $1.8 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

SOUTH CAROLINA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Ten percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in South Carolina show significant deterioration. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Ten percent of South Carolina’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.
  • The chart below details the share of structurally deficient bridges in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, the GSA Metro Area and Myrtle Beach.

HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN SOUTH CAROLINA

The fatality rate on South Carolina’s roads is the highest in the nation. Improving safety features on South Carolina’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. 

·      South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2015 is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13 and the highest fatality rate in the nation.

·      A total of 4,406 people were killed in South Carolina traffic crashes from 2012 to 2016, an average of 881 fatalities per year.

·      The fatality rate on South Carolina’s non-interstate rural roads in 2015 was nearly four times greater than on all other roads in the state (3.82 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 1.03).

·      The chart below details the average number of people killed in traffic crashes from 2013 to 2015 in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the cost per motorist of traffic crashes.

·      Traffic crashes in South Carolina imposed a total of $5.3 billion in economic costs in 2015. TRIP estimates that traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.8 billion in economic costs in 2015.  

·      According to a 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the economic costs of traffic crashes includes work and household productivity losses, property damage, medical costs, rehabilitation costs, legal and court costs, congestion costs and emergency services.

·      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 20 years.

SOUTH CAROLINA TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in South Carolina, 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 South Carolina is approximately $1.8 billion per year.

·       The chart below details the number of hours lost to congestion by the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas, as well as the annual cost of traffic congestion per driver in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.

·      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 SOUTH CAROLINA

Investment in South Carolina’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments.  The five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and does not include a long-term and sustainable revenue source. 

·      Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process.  But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.

·      The five-year, $305 billion FAST Act will provide a boost of approximately 15 percent in national highway funding and 18 percent in national transit funding over the duration of the program, which expires in 2020.

·      In addition to federal motor fuel tax revenues, the FAST Act will also be funded by $70 billion in U.S. general funds, which will rely on offsets from several unrelated federal programs including the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Customs.

·      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 based on an annual one percent increase in VMT 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,. Investment in the nation’s public transit system needs to increase from $17 billion to $43 billion.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SOUTH CAROLINA

The efficiency of South Carolina’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, $333 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in South Carolina, mostly by truck.

·      Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in South Carolina are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking. 

·      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 2015 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 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).