Trip Report: New Hampshire Transportation By The Numbers: Meeting The State’s Need For Safe And Efficient Mobility

TRIPNew Hampshire Transportation Funding Shortfall Will Lead To Increasing Road And Bridge Deterioration, Higher Costs To Drivers And Lost Economic Development Opportunities

At a time when New Hampshire faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $74 million, more than one third of the state’s major roads are deteriorated, nearly a third of bridges are in need of repair or replacement, and the state’s rural traffic fatality rate is disproportionately higher than that of other roads in the state.  Unless the state can increase transportation investment, conditions are projected to worsen significantly in the future.  Increased investment in transportation improvements could improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in New Hampshire, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.  The TRIP report, New Hampshire 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:

 

37%

 

43%

Currently, 37 percent of New Hampshire’s state-maintained roads and highways — the most critical 4,559 miles of roadways in the state, including the Interstate system — have pavements in poor condition.  Under current levels of funding, 43 percent of state-maintained roads in New Hampshire are projected to be in poor condition by 2016.

 

$74 million

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) projects that it would need to increase annual investment by $74 million annually to allow the state to maintain current road and bridge conditions, complete the widening of Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester, a critical state priority to support economic development and adequately fund maintenance and operations.
$323

$333 million

$503

$400

Driving on rough roads costs the average New Hampshire motorists $323 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $333 million statewide each year. The average driver in the Southern New Hampshire area, including Manchester and Nashua, loses $503 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads, while rough roads cost the average Dover-Rochester-Portsmouth driver $400 annually.

 

25 %

Vehicle miles of travel are anticipated to increase in New Hampshire by 25 percent by 2030.

 

119

An average of 119 people were killed annually in New Hampshire traffic crashes over the five-year-period from 2007 to 2011.

 

31 %

 

15 %

Nearly a third – 31 percent – of bridges in New Hampshire show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards.  The number of state-maintained bridges in New Hampshire that  are rated poor for one or more structural elements is expected to increase by 15 percent by 2016 under current funding.

 

$1.3 billion

The current backlog to repair all state-maintained roads, highways and bridges currently in poor condition in New Hampshire is $1.3 billion.
63%

26%

Sixty-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in New Hampshire are carried by trucks and another 26 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

 

3 ½

The fatality rate on New Hampshire’s non-Interstate rural roads is approximately three-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state.

1,056,889

New Hampshire has 1,056,889 licensed drivers.

According to the TRIP report, the state faces a $74 million annual shortfall in funds needed to maintain current road and bridge conditions, adequately fund winter maintenance and complete the widening of I-93 from Salem to Manchester (a critical state priority to support economic development). New Hampshire also faces a $1.3 billion total backlog to repair all state-maintained roads, highways and bridges currently in poor condition.

“Continuing to delay the maintenance and repair of our roads and bridges jeopardizes public safety, increases needless vehicle repair costs and is fiscally irresponsible,” said State Representative Candace Bouchard, Chair of the House Transportation Committee.  “It can cost taxpayers up to five times as much to rebuild a road or bridge due to the delay of routine maintenance.”

Because of this lack of transportation funding, road and bridge conditions are projected to worsen significantly in the future. Currently, 37 percent of New Hampshire’s state-maintained roads and highways are in poor condition. This represents the most critical 4,559 miles of roadway in the state, including the Interstate system. But under current funding conditions, the share of miles in poor condition is projected to increase to 43 percent by 2016. Bridge conditions will also deteriorate without additional funding. A total of 31 percent of the state’s bridges are currently structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Under current funding the number of state-maintained bridges in New Hampshire that are rated poor for one or more structural elements is expected to increase by 15 percent by 2016.

Driving on rough roads costs the average New Hampshire motorists $323 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $333 million statewide each year. In the Southern New Hampshire area, including Manchester and Nashua, the average motorist loses $503 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads, while rough roads cost the average Dover-Rochester-Portsmouth driver $400 each year.

The fatality rate on New Hampshire’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010, approximately three-and-a-half times higher than the 0.51 fatality rate in 2010 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.  Traffic crashes in New Hampshire claimed the lives of 596 people between 2007 and 2011. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.

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

Executive Summary

New Hampshire’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 Granite State’s economy. New Hampshire’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 New Hampshire looks to 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 New Hampshire’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.

Meeting New Hampshire’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

New Hampshire faces a significant funding shortfall in the cost to maintain its roads, highways and bridges in their current condition and a significant backlog in the cost of repairing all deficient roads and bridges.  Meeting the state’s need for a well-maintained, safe and reliable network of roads, highways and bridges will enhance New Hampshire’s economy by creating jobs. 

  • The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) projects that it would need to increase annual investment by $74 million annually to allow the state to maintain current road and bridge conditions, complete the widening of Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester, a critical state priority to support economic development and adequately fund maintenance and operations.
  • The current backlog to repair all state-maintained roads, highways and bridges in poor condition in New Hampshire is $1.3 billion.
  • 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.

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

  • New Hampshire’s population reached 1,320,718 in 2012, a 19 percent increase since 1990, when the state’s population was approximately 1.1 million.  New Hampshire’s population is expected to increase by approximately another 325,000 people by 2030, to 1,646,471 – a 25 percent increase.
  • New Hampshire has 1,056,889 licensed drivers.
  • Vehicle miles traveled in New Hampshire increased by 29 percent from 1990 to 2011 – jumping from 9.8 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1990 to 12.7 billion VMT in 2011.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in New Hampshire is projected to increase by another 25 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2010, New Hampshire’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 52 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

More than a third of miles of state-maintained roads and highways in New Hampshire have pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Currently, 37 percent of New Hampshire’s state-maintained roads and highways — the most critical 4,559 miles of roadways in the state, including the Interstate system — have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 44 percent of the state’s roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 19 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Under current levels of funding, the share of state-maintained roads in poor condition in New Hampshire is anticipated to increase to 43 percent by 2016.
  • 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 fair condition may show signs of significant wear and may also have some visible pavement distress. Most pavements in fair condition can be repaired by resurfacing, but some may need more extensive reconstruction to return them to good or excellent condition.
  • Driving on rough roads costs the typical New Hampshire motorist an average of $323 annually in extra vehicle operating costs – a total of $333 million statewide. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Driving on rough roads in the Southern New Hampshire area, including Manchester and Nashua, costs the average driver $503 annually in extra vehicle operating costs. The average motorist in the Dover-Rochester-Portsmouth area loses an additional $400 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads.

Nearly a third – 31 percent – of bridges in New Hampshire show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. This includes both state and municipal bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. 

  • Fifteen percent of New Hampshire’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.
  • Sixteen percent of New Hampshire’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. 
  • At current funding levels, the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges is expected to increase by 15 percent by 2016 from 152 bridges to 174.

New Hampshire’s traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes is approximately three-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads and highways in the state.  Improving safety features on New Hampshire’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in traffic fatalities and serious crashes in the state. 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 596 people were killed in traffic crashes in New Hampshire, an average of 119 fatalities per year.
  • New Hampshire’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.98 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010 is below the national average of 1.11.
  • The fatality rate on New Hampshire’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2010, approximately three-and-a-half times higher than the 0.51 fatality rate in 2010 on all other roads and highways in the state.
  • 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 likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • 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.
  • 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 New Hampshire’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, $38.5 billion in goods are shipped from sites in New Hampshire and another $40.3 billion in goods are shipped to sites in New Hampshire, mostly by truck.
  • Sixty-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in New Hampshire are carried by trucks and another 26 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.
  • 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.

Sources of information for this report include the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT), 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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