Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Arkansas motorists a total of $3.2 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,822 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 Arkansas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit .
The TRIP report, “Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Arkansas, more than half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, five percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 2,551 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018. Arkansas’ major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. The TRIP report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, congestion data, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock-North Little Rock- Conway, Pine Bluff and West Memphis urban areas and statewide.
“The findings of the TRIP report reaffirm the fact that the economic growth of our region and the quality of life of our residents is directly linked to the condition, safety and efficiency of our transportation system,” said Joe Quinn, executive director of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation. “Adequate investment in improving our roads and bridges puts Arkansans to work today and creates a lasting asset for future generations.”
Driving on deficient Arkansas roads costs motorists a total of $3.2 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. 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 26 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Arkansas are in poor condition and another 26 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s motorists an additional $1.6 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 Arkansas is worsening, causing up to 48 annual hours of delay for some motorists and costing drivers as much as $711 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, drivers lose $780 million annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.
Traffic crashes in Arkansas claimed the lives 2,551 people between 2014 and 2018. Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 is the 12th highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. Statewide, the financial impact of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor was $780 million.
Five percent of Arkansas’ bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Forty-four percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 51 percent are in good condition.
The efficiency and condition of Arkansas’ transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $226 billion in goods are shipped to and from Arkansas, 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. The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Arkansas supports approximately 35,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. Approximately 594,000 full-time jobs in Arkansas 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.
“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, Arkansas’ transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”
Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers
Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and efficient Mobility
Modernizing Arkansas’ transportation system is critical to quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Natural State. Inadequate transportation investment, which will result in deteriorated transportation facilities and diminished access, will negatively affect Arkansas’ economic competitiveness and quality of life. This report examines the condition, use, safety and funding needs of Arkansas’s roads and bridges.
THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS
Driving on Arkansas roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Arkansas drivers a total of $3.2 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 as a result of driving on rough roads, the financial cost of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway safety features was likely a contributing factor and the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.
ARKANSAS ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE
Due to inadequate state and local funding, 52 percent of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in Arkansas are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Arkansas driver $642 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $1.6 billion statewide. The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.
ARKANSAS VEHICLE TRAVEL AND CONGESTION INCREASING
In 2018, the state’s transportation system carried 37 billion annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT), a 26 percent increase since 2000. Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Arkansas drivers $780 million each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $711 and as many as 40 hours per year sitting in congestion. The chart below shows the annual number of hours lost to congestion per driver and the average cost per driver of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion in the state’s largest urban areas.
ARKANSAS TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES
From 2014 to 2018 2,551 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arkansas. In 2018, Arkansas had 1.41 traffic fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the 12th highest rate in the U.S. and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on Arkansas’ non-interstate rural roads is nearly double that on all other roads in the state (2.04 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.04).
Traffic crashes imposed a total of $2.5 billion in economic costs in Arkansas in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $839 million in economic costs. The chart below shows the average number of people killed in traffic crashes in the state’s largest urban areas between 2016 and 2018, and the cost of traffic crashes per driver.
ARKANSAS BRIDGE CONDITIONS
Five percent of Arkansas’ bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition. Bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Forty-four percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 51 percent are in good condition. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.
ARKANSAS TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
The federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which expires on September 30, 2020, is a major source of funding for road, highway and bridge repairs in Arkansas. Throughout the five years of the FAST-Act – fiscal years 2016 to 2020 – the program will provide $2.7 billion to Arkansas for road repairs and improvements, an average of $548 million per year. From 2014 to 2018, the federal government provided $1.23 for road improvements in Arkansas 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 53 percent of the amount of Arkansas 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 Arkansas’ economy is riding on its surface transportation system. Each year, $226 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Arkansas, mostly by truck. Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested surface transportation system. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Arkansas, when adjusted for inflation, is expected to increase by 90 percent by 2045, and by 75 percent by 2045 for goods shipped by trucks.
A report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Arkansas supports approximately 35,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $964 million annually. Approximately 594,000 full-time jobs in Arkansas in key industries like tourism, manufacturing, retail sales and agriculture are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
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 Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cover page photo credit: Arkansas Good Roads Foundation.
The complete report is available at: www.tripnet.org