TRIP Reports: Des Moines Drivers Waste Nearly $1,400 Each Year Driving On Deficient Roads – A Total Of $1.9 Billion Statewide

TRIPForty-Two Percent Of Iowa Roads Need Improvement, One Quarter Of Bridges Require Repair Or Replacement, And Rural Fatalities Are Disproportionately High

More than two-fifths of Iowa’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition, the state has the third highest percentage of deficient bridges, and Iowa drivers experience growing congestion and delays. In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, Iowa’s rural roads have a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than all other roads in the state. Increased investment in transportation improvements could improve road and bridge conditions, ease congestion, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Iowa, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. The TRIP report, Iowa 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.

 

$1.9 billion

 

$1,368

Iowa 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 $1.9 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes. Driving on deficient roads costs the average Des Moines area motorist $1,368 annually.

$215 million

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs.

42%

 

60%

Forty-two percent of Iowa’s major locally and state- maintained roads and highways are either in poor or mediocre condition.  Sixty percent of Des Moines-area major locally and state- maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
395

1,977

From 2007 to 2011, an average of 395 people were killed annually in Iowa traffic crashes, a total of 1,977 fatalities over the five year period.

 

2.5

The fatality rate on Iowa’s non-interstate rural roads is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads (1.81 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.77).

 

27 %

More than a quarter of Iowa bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Twenty-two percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and five percent are functionally obsolete.

Third

Iowa has the third highest share of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, behind only Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

36 %

Vehicle miles of travel in Iowa increased 36 percent from 1990 to 2011.

 

 

$1 billion =27,800

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.

 

$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.

“The TRIP report validates the findings of both TIME 21 and Governor Branstad’s Transportation 2020 Commission that more funding for Iowa’s highway infrastructure system is crucial.  The report’s findings underscore the fact that the cost of bad roads has a significantly more adverse economic impact on the driving public than any increase in user fees,” noted David Scott, Executive Director, Iowa Good Roads Association.  Iowa Good Roads Association is part of a larger group of business, agricultural, and development organizations.

Iowa 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 $1.9 billion each year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and traffic crashes. Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Des Moines area driver $1,368 annually.

According to the TRIP report, 42 percent of Iowa’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition. In the Des Moines metro area, 60 percent of roads are in poor or mediocre condition. A total of 27 percent of Iowa’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Twenty-two percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, the third highest total in the nation. Structurally deficient bridges have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional five percent of Iowa’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Growing traffic congestion, particularly in the state’s urban areas, threatens to choke commuting and commerce. The average commuter in the Des Moines metro area loses 27 hours each year stuck in congestion.

Traffic crashes in Iowa claimed the lives of 1,980 people between 2007 and 2011. The state’s traffic fatality rate of 1.23 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT) is higher than the national average of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT. However, the traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Iowa’s non-Interstate rural roads was 1.81 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the 0.77 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel 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. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.

“These key transportation numbers in Iowa 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 Iowa will require a significant boost in state and federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”

Executive Summary:

Iowa Transportation By The Numbers:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility

Iowa’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. Iowa’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 Iowa looks 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 Iowa’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 an unemployment rate of five percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Iowa 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 Iowans.  Meeting Iowa’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

An inadequate transportation system costs Iowa residents a total of $1.9 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes. Drivers in the Des Moines area lose an average of $1,368 each year due to driving on deteriorated roads.

  • TRIP estimates that Iowa 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 $1.9 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes. Driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack all desirable safety features costs the average Des Moines area motorist $1,368 annually.
  • TRIP has calculated the annual cost to Iowa residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features both statewide and in Des Moines.  The following chart shows the cost breakdown both statewide and in Des MoiIowa faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to make critically needed roadway improvements. The state’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and overburdened unless additional transportation funding can be secured.
  • According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the state faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $215 million in order to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs.
  • Unless the state can close the transportation funding shortfall, Iowa will experience an increasing number of bridge closures and bridges with weight restrictions, deteriorating conditions throughout the system that will impact the movement of goods and people, increased costs to transportation providers and users, and potential economic losses to the state.

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

  • Iowa’s population reached 3.1 million in 2012, a 10 percent increase since 1990, when the state’s population was approximately 2.8 million. Iowa had 2,191,715licensed drivers in 2011.
  • Vehicle miles traveled in Iowa increased by 35 percent from 1990 to 2011 – jumping from 23.2 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 31.4 billion VMT in 2011.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Iowa is projected to increase by another 20 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2011, Iowa’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 55 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

Forty-two percent of major locally and state-maintained roads and highways in Iowa have pavement surfaces in poor or mediocre condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs. 

  • Nineteen percent of Iowa’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.  Nineteen percent are rated in fair condition and the remaining 39 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The 2011 pavement data in this report for all arterial roads and highways is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IowaDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in the state.
  • In the Des Moines urban area, 38 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are rated in poor condition and 22 percent are rated in mediocre 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. 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 condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Iowa motorist a total of $910 million annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Des Moines motorist $591 annually in extra vehicle operating costs.

More than a quarter of locally and state-maintained bridges in Iowa 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. 

  • Twenty-two percent of Iowa’s bridges are structurally deficient, the third highest rate nationally, behind only Pennsylvania with 25 percent and Oklahoma also with 22 percent.
  • 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. 
  • Five percent of Iowa’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 growing level of traffic congestion is causing mounting delays on Iowa’s roadways, particularly in the state’s larger urban areas.

  • According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the average driver in the Des Moines urban area loses $585 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average commuter in the Des Moines urban area loses 27 hours each year stuck in congestion. 
  • The statewide cost of congestion related delays and wasted fuel is $360 million each year.

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

  • Between 2007 and 2011, a total of 1,977 people were killed in traffic crashes in Iowa, an average of 395 fatalities per year.
  • Iowa’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.23 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010 is higher than the national average of 1.11.
  • The fatality rate on Iowa’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.81 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel in 2010, nearly two-and-a-half times than the 0.77 fatality rate in 2010 on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in Iowa in 2011, in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor, was approximately $625 million. In the Des Moines urban area, the cost of serious traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor is approximately $192 per motorist. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical 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 the next 20 years.

The efficiency of Iowa’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, $157 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Iowa and another $142 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Iowa, mostly by truck.
  • Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Iowa are carried by trucks and another seven 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Iowa Department of Transportation (IowaDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  

 

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