Trip Reports: Recent Boosts In Missouri Transportation Funding Have Improved Roads And Bridges.

…But Conditions Will Decline Unless Impending Funding Cuts Are Reversed; Roadway Deficiencies Found To Cost State Motorists Billions

A new report finds that additional transportation funding has allowed Missouri to accelerate bridge repair and replacement, pavement improvements, and safety upgrades. However, deficiencies remain on Missouri’s surface transportation system and recent gains could be lost without continued support for transportation maintenance, improvement and expansion.

The report, “Future Mobility in Missouri: Meeting the State’s Needs for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” was released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC, based national transportation organization. According to the report, voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2004 allowed the state to recapture transportation funds that had been diverted to other programs and also allowed for the sale of $2 billion in bonds to undertake many needed projects. However, after steadily increasing since 2004, highway capital investment will soon plummet to pre-2000 levels, jeopardizing future transportation improvements and compromising the state’s ability to secure millions in federal matching funds for much-needed transportation projects. The TRIP report contains lists of needed road, bridge and transit projects that can not move forward without additional federal, state or local funding.

“With funding for our construction budget cut in half, we are facing a transportation crisis in Missouri,” said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith.  “We will soon be at risk of losing millions of dollars for state road and bridge projects because we’ll be unable to match federal funding.  Without additional funding for transportation, we won’t be able to deliver the projects that make our highways safer, create jobs and help grow our local communities.”

According to the TRIP report, despite recent improvements, Missouri ranks seventh in the nation in the share of bridges that are structurally deficient. Seventeen percent of the state’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2010 and an additional 12 percent were functionally obsolete. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) projects a decrease of 300 structurally deficient and functionally obsolete MoDOT-owned bridges between 2008 and 2014, as a result of MoDOT’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program. However, without additional funding, those improvements will be wiped out by 2018, when MoDOT projects that the number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges will return to 2008 levels.

While the number of fatalities and crashes on the state’s roads has decreased in recent years, an average of 949 people lost their lives on Missouri’s roads each year between 2006 and 2010. The TRIP report also finds that the state’s rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than double that on all other roads in the state (1.73 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.83).

Fourteen percent of Missouri’s major state and locally maintained roads are in poor condition. In St. Louis, 18 percent of major roads and 38 percent of minor highways are in poor condition. Under current funding projections, the percentage of major state-maintained highways in good condition will drop significantly in the future.

In addition to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, Missouri’s roads are also becoming increasingly crowded and commuting and commerce are constrained by growing traffic congestion on major urban roads. In 2008, 44 percent of the state’s urban highways were congested during peak travel times.

TRIP estimates that Missouri’s roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s drivers approximately $4.4 billion annually in the form of traffic crashes, additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) and the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion. TRIP has calculated the cost to motorists of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features in the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas. The following chart shows the cost breakdown for these areas.

VOC Congestion Safety TOTAL
St, Louis $         416 $      772 $         182 $       1,370
Kansas City $         587 $      498 $         192 $       1,277
STATEWIDE $1.6 billion $1.4 billion $1.4 billion $4.4  billion

“Unless Missouri can find a way to raise the needed funds, the improvements made in recent years will be lost and many critically needed projects will remain stranded on the drawing board,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “It is critical that Missouri adequately fund its transportation system.  Thousands of jobs and the state’s economy are riding on it.”

FUTURE MOBILITY IN MISSOURI:

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility
APRIL 2011

Executive Summary

Transportation is more than just driving on Missouri’s roads and bridges or using public transit.  It’s about receiving packages in a timely manner, easily grabbing groceries on the way home, or safety traveling across the state.  Transportation provides the connections that keep businesses up and running. It not only moves people, it makes the movement of goods and services possible and provides the state’s residents with a high quality of life.  The quality of Missouri’s extensive system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit has a significant impact on the level of safety and mobility of the state’s residents, visitors and businesses.

As the backbone that supports the Show Me State’s economy, Missouri’s transportation system affects each resident every day. It provides for travel to work and school, visits to family and friends, and trips to tourist and recreation attractions.  Transportation connects Missouri businesses with customers and the world.  It provides the goods and services people need each day and plays a role in every product manufactured and every customer businesses serve.

State and local investments in highway and bridge construction in Missouri support 21,653 direct and indirect jobs. On average, every dollar invested in the state’s five-year construction program generates about $4 in new economic activity. Transportation helps the state attract new businesses and retain existing ones, add and keep jobs, and build and maintain tax revenues.

With an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Missouri must improve its system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit to foster economic growth and keep business in the state.  Highway accessibility is the second leading factor when companies choose locations (ranked just behind labor costs).  The Missouri Department of Economic Development has identified providing necessary infrastructure as one of its eight strategic initiatives for companies and communities to succeed.  In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all Missourians.

Missouri has made progress in recent years in improving road and bridge conditions, largely as a result of transportation funding provided through voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2004. This legislation redirected revenue from the vehicle sales tax to road and bridge improvements and allowed the state to sell approximately $2 billion in bonds to undertake many needed highway transportation projects. However, this progress will be reversed in the coming years, as state spending on needed projects decreases sharply in the future and transportation spending in the state drops drastically.  As a result, Missouri will be able to move forward with fewer projects to modernize the state’s transportation system. And by 2017 the state will risk losing millions of dollars for transportation projects because it will be unable to provide the matching funds needed to obtain federal surface transportation dollars.  Additional funding will be needed if Missouri is to continue to improve its transportation system and maintain the progress made in recent years.

In addition to state funding, the federal government is an essential source of revenue for the ongoing modernization of Missouri’s roads, highways, bridges and transit. Approved in February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided approximately $637 million in stimulus funding for highway and bridge improvements and $85 million for public transit improvements in Missouri. (ARRA also included an estimated $22.5 million in Federal Transit Administration grants).  While this funding helped Missouri tackle some needed road, highway, bridge and transit improvements, it is not sufficient to allow the state to proceed with numerous projects needed to modernize its surface transportation system. Meeting Missouri’s need to maintain and improve its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit will require a significant, long-term boost in transportation funding at the federal, state and local levels.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the current long-range federal surface transportation program,  was originally set to expire on Sept. 30, 2009. Following a series of short term extensions, the program now expires Sept. 30, 2011.  The level of funding and the provisions of a future federal surface transportation program will have a significant impact on future highway and bridge conditions and safety as well as the level of transit service in Missouri, which, in turn, will affect the state’s ability to keep its residents safe, improve their quality of life and enhance economic development opportunities.

Since 2004, Missouri has used funding made available by voter approval of Amendment 3 to make significant improvements to its highway transportation system. But that progress may be reversed as state spending on needed projects decreases sharply. An increase in federal, state and local transportation funding is necessary to continue to make needed improvements and maintain the progress made in recent years.

  • Voter approval of Amendment 3 in 2004 redirected revenue from the state’s vehicle sales tax that had been diverted to fund other programs in the state budget back to road and bridge improvements. It also allowed the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to sell approximately $2 billion in bonds to undertake many needed projects.
  • Transportation spending in the state is set to drop drastically in the coming years when bond proceeds are no longer available. After steadily increasing since 2004, highway capital investment in the state is dropping to pre-2000 levels, leaving less funding available for projects to modernize, repair and improve safety on the state’s roads, highways and bridges.
  • By 2017, Missouri will be unable to provide state matching funds needed to obtain federal funds. As a result, Missouri will lose millions of federal dollars for much-needed transportation projects.
  • In addition to state transportation funding, the federal surface transportation program is an essential source of funding for the construction, maintenance and improvement of Missouri’s system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit.
  • Federal spending levels for highways and public transit are based on the current federal surface transportation program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which was approved by Congress in 2005.  Following a series of short-term extensions since its original expiration date of Sept. 30 2009, the SAFETEA-LU program expires on Sept. 30, 2011.
  • From 2000 to 2009, Missouri received approximately $8.4 billion in federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements, and $1.1 billion for public transit, a total of approximately $9.5 billion.

An inadequate transportation system costs Missouri residents a total of $4.4 billion every year in the form of traffic crashes, additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) and congestion-related delays.

  • A lack of available transportation funding in the future is projected to lead to increasingly deteriorated road and bridge conditions and additional congestion in Missouri’s major urban areas. Without additional funds, the state will be unable to complete many needed transportation improvement projects.
  • TRIP estimates that Missouri’s 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 $4.4 billion annually in the form of traffic crashes, additional vehicle operating costs and the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.
  • TRIP has calculated the cost to Missouri’s residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features in the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas. The following chart shows the cost breakdown for these areas.

Without a substantial boost in federal or state highway funding, Missouri will be unable to complete numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of roads, bridges, highways and public transit, hampering the state’s ability to boost mobility, improve safety and to enhance economic development opportunities.

  • Needed projects in Missouri that would require a significant boost in federal or state funding to proceed include I-70/I-435 interchange improvements in Kansas City, corridor and safety improvements to I-44 in St. Louis, corridor improvements to US 60 in Springfield, improvements to the Downtown Loop in Kansas City, rebuilding and widening the I-70 and I-44 statewide corridors, replacing the MO 47 major bridge over the Missouri River in Washington, adding capacity to transit service in rural and urban parts of the state.  A list of needed projects is included in the report.
  • To ensure that federal funding for highways and bridges in Missouri and throughout the nation continues beyond the expiration of SAFETEA-LU, Congress needs to approve a new long-term federal surface transportation program by Sept. 30, 2011.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided approximately $637 million in stimulus funding for highway and bridge improvements and $85 million for public transit improvements in Missouri. (ARRA also included an estimated $22.5 million in Federal Transit Administration grants.)

Population and economic growth in the Show Me State have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways.

  • Missouri’s population reached approximately 6 million in 2009, an increase of 17 percent since 1990.  The state’s population is expected to grow another 14 percent by 2030.
  • Vehicle travel in Missouri increased 36 percent from 1990 to 2009 – jumping from 50.9 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 69.0 billion VMT in 2009.
  • By 2025, vehicle travel in Missouri is projected to increase by another 40 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2009, Missouri’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 40 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
  • In 2010, Missouri’s 36 public transit systems provided 60 million rides.

Although Missouri road conditions have improved in recent years, without additional transportation funding, road conditions are projected to deteriorate in the next 15 years.

  • In 2008, 14 percent of Missouri’s major state and locally maintained roads were in poor 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 in need of repair cost each Missouri motorist an average of $380 annually in extra vehicle operating costs – $1.6 billion statewide.  Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • In Kansas City, 16 percent of major roads and nearly 40 percent of minor roads on the state system are in poor condition.  Driving on roads in need of repair costs each Kansas City motorist an average of $587 each year in the form of accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Eighteen percent of St. Louis’ major roads and about 38 percent of minor highways are considered to be in poor condition.   It is estimated that this costs the average area driver $416 annually in extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair.
  • Pavement conditions on state-maintained roads in Missouri have improved in recent years. However, unless additional funding is made available, MoDOT projects that the share of major and minor state-maintained roads in good condition will decrease significantly by 2024. The percentage of major state-maintained highways in good condition is projected to drop from 86 percent in 2010 to 70 percent in 2024, while the share of minor state-maintained roads in good condition will drop from 68 percent to 53 percent during the same time period.
  • The functional life of Missouri’s roads is greatly affected by the state’s ability to perform timely maintenance and upgrades to ensure that structures last as long as possible.  It is critical that roads are fixed before they require major repairs because reconstructing roads costs approximately four times more than resurfacing them.

Twenty-nine percent of bridges in Missouri show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards.  This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length and are maintained by state, local and federal agencies.  Missouri ranks seventh among states nationally in the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient.

  • Seventeen percent of Missouri’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2010, the seventh highest rate nationally.  A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, superstructure or substructure or if the bridge was designed to carry light loads.  Structurally deficient bridges may be closed in some situations, but more often are posted for lower weight limits, which restricts or redirects larger vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • Twelve percent of Missouri’s bridges were functionally obsolete in 2010.  Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • The state projects a decrease of about 300 structurally deficient and functionally obsolete MoDOT-owned bridges by 2014, as a result of MoDOT’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program. However, without long-term funding, those improvements will be wiped out by 2018, when MoDOT projects that the number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges will return to 2008 levels.
  • This report contains a list of needed bridge rehabilitation and replacement projects across the state that would require additional federal or state funding to be completed.

Improving safety features on Missouri’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities in the state.  Roadway design is an important factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.   Missouri’s rural traffic fatality rate is significantly greater than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

  • Between 2006 and 2010, 4,747 people were killed in traffic crashes in Missouri, an average of 949 fatalities per year.
  • Missouri’s traffic fatality rate was 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010.
  • The traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Missouri’s non-Interstate rural roads was 1.73 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, which is more than two times higher than the 0.83 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • A disproportionate share of highway fatalities occur on Missouri’s rural, non-Interstate roads.  In 2010, 55 percent of traffic fatalities in Missouri occurred on rural, non-Interstate routes, while only 37 percent of vehicle travel in the state occurred on these roads.
  • The cost of serious traffic crashes in Missouri in 2009, in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor, was approximately $1.4 billion. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • In the Kansas City area, where there were 134 traffic fatalities in 2010, traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost the average driver approximately $192 per year.
  • Traffic crashes in the St. Louis area in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor cost the average driver approximately $182 per year. In 2010, there were 175 traffic fatalities the St. Louis area.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway design.  It is estimated that roadway design is an important factor in one-third of fatal traffic accidents.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and accidents while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.  Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • The Federal Highway Administration has found that every $100 million spent on needed highway safety improvements will result in 145 fewer traffic fatalities over a 10-year period.

Commerce and commuting in Missouri are constrained by growing traffic congestion, which will increase in the future unless additional highway and transit capacity is provided.

  • In 2008, 44 percent of the state’s urban highways carried a level of traffic likely to result in significant delays during peak travel hours.
  • The average rush hour trip in the Kansas City metropolitan area takes approximately ten percent longer to complete than during non-rush hour. Congestion related delays cost the average peak-hour driver in Kansas City $498 each year in lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The average rush hour trip in the St. Louis metropolitan area takes approximately 12 percent longer to complete than during non-rush hour.  Congestion related delays cost the average peak-hour driver in St. Louis $772 each year in lost time and wasted fuel.

The efficiency of Missouri’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.  Expenditures on highway repairs create a significant number of jobs.

  • 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.
  • Every year, $226 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Missouri and another $234 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Missouri, mostly by trucks.  Seventy-two percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Missouri are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of their deliveries.
  • 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.

Two 2010 reports, one by the Treasury Department with the Council of Economic Advisers and the other by a bipartisan group of transportation experts, found that the U.S. is falling far behind internationally in providing a modern transportation system and will need to adopt a more ambitious and focused transportation program to maintain the nation’s standard of living.  The reports call for increased investment to relieve traffic congestion, improve freight and intermodal access, improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, and reduce emissions.

The reports found that now is an optimal time to invest in infrastructure because of reduced costs due to the economic downturn and that providing adequate resources to modernize the nation’s transportation system will require increased use of innovative funding tools including vehicle-miles-traveled fees, public-private partnerships and capital budgeting.

  • The report, “An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment” (The Treasury report), was prepared by the U.S. Department of the Treasury with the Council of Economic Advisers.
  • The report, “Well Within Reach: America’s New Transportation Agenda” (The Miller report), was prepared by a group of the nation’s top transportation policy experts chaired by former U.S. Secretaries of Transportation, Samuel Skinner and Norman Mineta.  The group was assembled by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia to develop solutions for the funding and planning challenges that confront the nation’s transportation system.
  • The Miller report found that the U.S. faces an annual funding shortfall to maintain conditions and traffic congestion levels on its transportation system from between $134 and $194 billion and from between $189 and $262 billion to improve conditions and reduce traffic congestion.
  • The Treasury report found that U.S. infrastructure spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen by 50 percent and now accounts for two percent of the nation’s GDP.  In contrast, China spends about nine percent of its GDP on infrastructure and Europe about five percent.
  • The Treasury report found that now is an optimal time to invest in transportation infrastructure because well-designed projects can provide significant, long-term economic benefits, significant needs exist and construction and other costs associated with infrastructure projects are especially low because of high unemployment and a high level of underutilized resources.

Key recommendations of the reports include:

Program format:

  • Adopt an integrated approach to transportation planning that includes freight and goods movement and stresses intermodal connectivity (Miller).
  • Prioritize projects that provide the greatest returns in terms of future U.S. competitiveness, economic growth and employment (Miller).
  • Increase emphasis on urban congestion relief, including adding additional roadway and transit capacity, making the existing system work more efficiently and adopting regional policies that may reduce some travel demand (Miller).
  • Improve the delivery of transportation projects by reforming the project planning, permitting and review process to speed actual implementation (Miller).

Funding:

  • Establish a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) that would create conditions for greater private sector co-investment in infrastructure.  The NIB would also perform rigorous analysis to identify projects with the greatest possible societal and economic benefits (Treasury).
  • Save the public money by investing adequately in transportation to reduce delays, vehicle maintenance costs, traffic crashes and vehicle emissions (Miller).
  • Adopt a federal capital budget that recognizes that transportation expenditures are an investment and that takes into account future returns on those investments (Miller).

All data used in the report is the latest available. Sources of information for this report include the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Treasury Department, the Council of Economic Advisers, the U.S. Census, The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Reason Foundation and the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).

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