Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Georgia motorists a total of $7.9 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,900 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 and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Georgia, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Georgia Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Georgia, 10 percent of major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways are in poor condition. Sixteen percent of Georgia’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, more than 6,000 people were killed in crashes on the state’s roads in the last five years.
Driving on deficient roads costs each Georgia driver as much as $1,925 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 cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Georgia’s largest urban areas: Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that ten percent of major urban roads in the state are in poor condition, while 39 percent are in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 51 percent are in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Georgia motorist a total of $1.7 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 drivers a total of $3.8 billion annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
“Motorists expect and deserve safe, well maintained roads and bridges no matter if they are traveling on the Interstates or rural roads,” said Garrett Townsend, public affairs director for AAA- The Auto Club Group. “Legislators must act to provide a sustainable solution to ensure that Georgia can continue to make necessary infrastructure investments that will benefit all travelers.”
A total of 16 percent of Georgia’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Five percent of Georgia’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 11 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.
Georgia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.08 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is slightly lower than the national average of 1.09. Traffic crashes in Georgia claimed the lives of 6,122 people between 2009 and 2013.
The efficiency and condition of Georgia’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $378 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Georgia and another $413 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Georgia, mostly by truck.
The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding in Georgia. From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.23 for road improvements in Georgia for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees. In July 2014 Congress approved an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, which will now run through May 31, 2015. The legislation will also transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.
“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. “Congress can help by approving a long-term federal surface transportation program that provides adequate funding levels, based on a reliable funding source. If not, Georgia is going to see its future federal funding threatened, resulting in fewer road and bridge improvements, loss of jobs, and a burden on the state’s economy.”
|$7.9 Billion – Statewide
$742 – Athens
$1,925 – Atlanta
$1,259 – Augusta
$1,199 – Columbus
$957 – Gainesville
$1,394 – Macon
$1,800 – Savannah
|Driving on deficient roads costs Georgia residents $7.9 billion annually statewide. These costs include additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. TRIP has calculated the cost of driving on deficient roads to the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas: Athens: $742; Atlanta: $1,925; Augusta: $1,259; Columbus: $1,199; Gainesville: $957; Macon: $1,394; Savannah: $1,800.|
|Georgia’s drivers lose $3.8 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion.|
|On average, 1,224 people were killed annually in Georgia traffic crashes from 2009 to 2013, a total of 6,122 fatalities over the five year period.|
3.5 X higher
|The fatality rate on Georgia’s non-interstate rural roads is nearly three-and-a-half greater than on all other roads in the state (2.55 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.77).|
|10%||Ten percent of Georgia’s major urban roads are in poor condition.|
|5% – Athens
23% – Atlanta
19% – Augusta
9% – Columbus
5% – Gainesville
8% – Macon
36% – Savannah
|TRIP has calculated the percentage of major roads in poor condition in each of the state’s largest urban areas: Athens: five percent; Atlanta: 23 percent; Augusta: 19 percent; Columbus: nine percent; Gainesville: five percent; Macon: eight percent; Savannah: 36 percent.|
|A total of 16 percent of Georgia bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Five percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 11 percent are functionally obsolete|
|6,581,534||Georgia had 6,581,534 licensed drivers in 2012.|
$1.23 return on $1.00
|From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.23 for road improvements in Georgia for every dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.|
$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, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.|
Georgia’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 state’s economy. Georgia’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 Georgia works to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and 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 Georgia’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.
With the state’s population continuing to grow, Georgia must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Georgians. Meeting Georgia’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.
Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.
An inadequate transportation system costs Georgia residents a total of $7.9 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.
- TRIP estimates that Georgia 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 $7.9 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 annual cost to drivers in Georgia’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that have deterioration, are congested or lack some desirable safety features. Cost breakdowns for each urban area are detailed below.
Population and economic growth in Georgia have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.
- Georgia’s population reached approximately 10 million in 2013, a 53 percent increase since 1990. Georgia had 6,581,534 licensed drivers in 2012.
- Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Georgia increased by 50 percent from 1990 to 2013 – jumping from 72.7 billion VMT in 1990 to 109.4 billion VMT in 2013.
- By 2030, vehicle travel in Georgia is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
- From 1990 to 2013, Georgia’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 83 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
Deteriorated pavement conditions provide a rough ride and cost motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.
- Ten percent of Georgia’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 39 percent of the state’s major urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition. Fifty-one percent are rated in in good condition.
- The following chart details the percentage of roads in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in each of Georgia’s largest urban ar
- 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 Georgia motorists a total of $1.7 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
Sixteen percent of locally and state-maintained bridges in Georgia 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.
- Five percent of Georgia’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.
- Eleven percent of Georgia’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 following chart details the percentage of bridges in each of the state’s largest urban areas that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Improving safety features on Georgia’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 2009 and 2013 a total of 6,122 people were killed in traffic crashes in Georgia, an average of 1,224 fatalities per year.
- Georgia’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.08 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is slightly lower than national traffic fatality rate of 1.09.
- The fatality rate on Georgia’s rural non-Interstate roads was 2.55 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2013, nearly three-and-a-half times the 0.77 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
- The chart below details the average number of fatalities in Georgia’s largest urban area from 2010 to 2013, as well as the annual financial cost of traffic crashes for the average driver in each urban area.
- 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.
Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Georgia, 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.
- The table below details the average annual number of hours lost due to congestion for motorists in each of the state’s largest urban areas, as well as average annual cost per motorist of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of congestion:
- The increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. Increased levels of congestion can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company considering expansion or location of a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for employees, and higher consumer costs.
The efficiency of Georgia’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses are increasingly reliant 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, $378 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Georgia and another $413 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Georgia, mostly by truck.
- Eighty-four percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Georgia are carried by trucks and another ten 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.
The federal government is a critical source of funding for Georgia’s roads, highways and bridges and provides a significant return to Georgia in road and bridge funding based on the revenue generated in the state by the federal motor fuel tax.
- From 2008 to 2012, the federal government provided $1.23 for road improvements in Georgia for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
- If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
- A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
- The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.
- The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report also found that the current backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements is $740 billion.
Sources of information for this report include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).