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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           Contact: Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
Wednesday, February 15, 2017                                
Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Report available at: tripnet.org                               TRIP office 202.466.6706

Eds.: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery urban areas.  Info-graphics for each area can be downloaded here.

Huntsville, AL – Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Alabama motorists a total of $4.2 billion statewide annually - $1,325 per driver in the Huntsville urban area - 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, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Alabama, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, “Alabama Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Alabama, 19 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition and eight percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, nearly 4,300 people were killed in crashes on Alabama’s roads from 2011 to 2015.

Driving on deficient roads costs the average Huntsville area driver $1,325 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 costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 56 percent of major roads in the Huntsville urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $619 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Alabama’s transportation system is the backbone of the state’s economy and is crucial to our economic competitiveness and quality of life,” said Tony Cochran, Business Council of Alabama board member. “This is why we, as a state, must continue to focus on adequately funding our transportation system in order for Alabamians to utilize and enjoy safe, smooth and efficient roads and bridges.”

Traffic congestion in the Huntsville area is worsening, causing 23 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $510 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

Eight percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Huntsville urban area, four percent of bridges are structurally deficient.

Traffic crashes in Alabama claimed the lives of 4,280 people between 2011 and 2015. Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on Alabama’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.96 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than double the 0.92 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.  In the Huntsville urban area, on average, 30 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of  the last three years. 

The efficiency and condition of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $436 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by truck. Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Alabama are carried by trucks and another 12 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Alabama’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.”