Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Texas motorists a total of $23.2 billion statewide – nearly $2,000 annually per driver in some areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs (VOC), 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 Texas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Future Mobility in Texas: The Cost of Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Texas, 45 percent of state and locally maintained urban roads and highways provide motorists with a rough ride. A total of 18 percent of Texas bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with travel delays in some areas expected to double in the next 15 years. And Texas’ rural non-interstate traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.
Deficient roads place a significant financial burden on the state’s drivers in the form of extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and wasted 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 Texas’ largest urban areas: Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, Houston and San Antonio. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each city along with a statewide total is below:
According to the TRIP report, in 2010, 18 percent of Texas’ major urban roads were in poor condition and an additional 27 percent were in mediocre condition. Under current funding scenarios, statewide pavement quality is projected to decrease by 30 percent by 2022. Underfunding maintenance on the state’s roads will increase the cost to preserve and restore the pavement by $6.5 billion over the next ten years.
Commuting and commerce in Texas are constrained by growing traffic congestion, which will increase in the future unless additional highway and transit capacity is provided. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, congestion will cost the state’s economy an average of $20 billion per year over the next 15 years, rising from a current cost of approximately $10.8 billion per year to almost $30 billion in 2025. If roadway efficiency and capacity needs are not addressed, the average congestion-related delay per commuter in Texas’ urban and metropolitan areas will double in 15 years from 37 hours per year to 74 hours per year.
“The TRIP report demonstrates the impact of underfunding our transportation system, in the form of significant costs passed on to the state’s drivers. Texas motorists can not afford to pay the price for an inadequate transportation system, and the state cannot afford missed economic opportunities due to congested and deteriorated roads. While the cost to address these deficient roads is significant, the cost of doing nothing is much higher,” said Lawrence Olsen, executive vice president of Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association.
Traffic crashes in Texas claimed the lives of 2,998 people in 2010. The traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Texas’ non-Interstate rural roads was 1.67 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, 43 percent higher than the 1.17 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 Texas’ rural, non-Interstate roads. In 2010, 34 percent of traffic fatalities in Texas occurred on rural, non-Interstate routes, while only 23 percent of vehicle travel in the state occurred on these roads.
According to the TRIP report, three percent of Texas’ bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or are closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency service vehicles. An additional 15 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment with the approaching road. Bridges that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete are safe for travel and are monitored regularly by the organizations responsible for maintaining them.
“Addressing Texas’ needs for a safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation system will require a significant boost in investment. But not addressing the state’s need for an improved transportation system will result in even greater costs to the public,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.
FUTURE MOBILITY IN TEXAS:
The Cost of Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility
Transportation is more than just driving on Texas’ roads and bridges or using public transit. It’s about receiving packages in a timely manner, easily grabbing groceries on the way home, or safely 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 Texas’ 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 Lone Star State’s economy, Texas’ transportation system impacts 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 Texas 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.
With a current unemployment rate of 7.1 percent and with the state’s population continuing to grow, Texas 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 Texans.
An inadequate transportation system costs Texas residents a total of $23.2 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 Texas’ major urban areas. Without additional funds, the state will be unable to complete many needed transportation improvement projects.
- TRIP estimates that Texas’ 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 $23.2 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 annual cost to Texas’ residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features both statewide and in the state’s four largest metropolitan areas. The following chart shows the annual cost breakdown per driver for each of these areas and also a statewide total.
Population increases and economic growth in the Lone Star State have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways.
- Texas’ population reached approximately 25.7 million in 2011, an increase of 51 percent since 1990. The state’s population is expected to grow to 37.3 million by 2030.
- From 1990 to 2010, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state increased by 44 percent, from approximately 162 billion VMT to 234 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Texas will increase another 35 percent by 2030, reaching approximately 304 billion VMT.
- From 1990 to 2010, Texas’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 88 percent, when adjusted for inflation.
Nearly half of Texas’ state and locally maintained urban roads are deteriorated. Without additional transportation funding, pavement conditions will worsen in the future.
- In 2010, 18 percent of Texas’ major urban roads were in poor condition and an additional 27 percent were in mediocre condition.
- The pavement data in this report is provided by the Federal Highway Administration, based on data submitted annually by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in the state.
- 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 the average Texas motorist $400 annually in extra vehicle operating costs – $6.1 billion statewide. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
- Driving on roads in need of repair carries a heavy financial price tag, especially for residents of the state’s major metropolitan areas, where pavement deterioration may be worse than the statewide average. The chart below details pavement conditions and the extra vehicle operating cost (VOC) borne by the average motorist in the state’s four largest urban areas.
- The functional life of Texas’ 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.
Eighteen percent of bridges in Texas 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.
- Three percent of Texas’ bridges were structurally deficient in 2011. 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.
- Fifteen percent of Texas’ bridges were functionally obsolete in 2011. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
Improving safety features on Texas’ roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities in the state. TRIP estimates that roadway features are a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. Texas’ rural traffic fatality rate is significantly greater than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.
- Between 2006 and 2010, 16,635 people were killed in traffic crashes in Texas, an average of 3,327 fatalities per year.
- Texas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.30 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010 was higher than the national average of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.
- The traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Texas’ non-Interstate rural roads was 1.67 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, which is higher than the 1.17 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state.
- A disproportionate share of highway fatalities occurs on Texas’ rural, non-Interstate roads. In 2010, 34 percent of traffic fatalities in Texas occurred on rural, non-Interstate routes, while only 23 percent of vehicle travel in the state occurred on these roads.
- The cost of serious traffic crashes in Texas in 2010, in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor, was approximately $6.3 billion. Roadway features which 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. It is estimated that roadway features are a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
- TRIP has calculated the cost of serious traffic crashes in which roadway features were likely a contributing factor for each of Texas’ four largest urban areas.
- Roadway features which 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.
- 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.
- The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that recent TxDOT projects 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 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.
Commuting and commerce in Texas are constrained by growing traffic congestion, which will increase in the future unless additional highway and transit capacity is provided.
- According to the Texas Transportation Institute, congestion will cost the state’s economy an average of $20 billion per year over the next 15 years, rising from a current cost of approximately $10.8 billion per year to almost $30 billion in 2025.
- If roadway efficiency and capacity needs are not addressed, the average congestion-related delay per commuter in Texas’ urban and metropolitan areas will double in 15 years from 37 hours per year to 74 hours per year.
- The total annual statewide cost to Texas’ motorists of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion is $10.8 billion. Commuters in the state’s four largest metro areas lose from several hundred to over one thousand dollars annually in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.
Unless transportation funding is increased, Texas’ roads and bridges will become increasingly deteriorated and congested and needed safety improvements will remain unfunded. The state faces a significant funding shortfall in the amount needed just to maintain the transportation system in its current condition.
- Over the past decade, roadway maintenance and capacity in Texas have been largely funded through bond proceeds. However, all bonding programs have now been exhausted, resulting in a 50 percent drop in funding levels from a decade ago and leaving no funds available for new construction.
- A report issued by the 2030 Committee calculated that an annual investment of $9.9 billion was needed just to maintain road and bridge conditions and congestion at 2010 levels. However, after fiscal year 2013, annual state highway investment is anticipated to average $2.6 billion annually.
- Under current funding scenarios, overall pavement quality is projected to decrease by 30 percent by 2022. Failing to address pavement deterioration in a timely manner increases repair costs over time. In Texas, underfunding maintenance on the state’s roads will increase the cost to preserve and restore the pavement by $6.5 billion over the next ten years.
- While the growth and expansion of Texas’ oil, gas and wind energy sectors has been beneficial for the state’s economic well being, increased traffic (especially by heavy trucks) has had a significant impact on the condition of the state’s roads and highways. A new report by the Texas Transportation Institute found that the cost of additional road repairs needed as a result of the energy boom’s wear and tear on state and county roads in Texas is estimated to be $2 billion each year for the next 20 years.
The efficiency of Texas’ 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.
- Every year, $1.2 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Texas and another $1.2 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Texas, mostly by trucks. Sixty percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Texas are carried by trucks and another nine percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of their deliveries.
- 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.
- 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.
All data used in the report is the latest available. Sources of information for this report include the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Census, The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).
To see the full report visit TRIP