FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Report available at: tripnet.org
ARIZONA MOTORISTS LOSE $9.6 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADWAYS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME DESIRABLE SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,000 PER DRIVER. LACK OF SUSTAINABLE, LONG-TERM FUNDING THREATENS ARIZONA’S ABILITY TO IMPROVE ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS, IMPROVE TRAFFIC SAFETY, AND RELIEVE CONGESTION ON A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM CARRYING GROWING TRAFFIC VOLUMES.
Eds.: The report includes pavement and bridge condition, congestion and highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Phoenix-Mesa and Tucson urban areas and statewide. Info-graphics can be downloaded here.
Phoenix, AZ – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Arizona motorists a total of $9.6 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. A lack of sustainable, long-term transportation funding threatens Arizona’s ability to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, and relieve traffic congestion and could be an impediment to economic growth, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.
The TRIP report, “Arizona Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Arizona, nearly half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, the state’s traffic fatality rate is the fourth highest in the nation, vehicle travel in Arizona has increased by 34 percent since 2000, the sixth highest rate of growth nationally and 150 locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient. The report also finds that the rate of population growth in Arizona has been among the fastest in the nation since 2000, placing significant stress on the state’s transportation system and resulting in increasing traffic congestion and delays that choke commuting and commerce.
Driving on deficient Arizona roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $9.6 billion annually – up to $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – 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. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the Phoenix-Mesa and Tucson urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.
The TRIP report finds that 19 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Arizona are in poor condition and another 25 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers an additional $3 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 16 percent of Arizona’s major roads are in fair condition and the remaining 40 percent are in good condition.
“In 2018, Arizona’s county engineers documented the alarming degradation of county roadways and the fact that existing revenue sources are insufficient to provide basic maintenance. The TRIP report underscores this problem and provides compelling evidence that the chronic underinvestment in maintenance and construction places a heavy cost on Arizonans,” said Craig Sullivan, executive director of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona. “This cost comes in the form of vehicle wear and tear, diminished roadway safety, and impediments to economic growth. Given these findings, there is little doubt that increasing investments in improving our infrastructure will deliver a significant “return on investment” to Arizona taxpayers.”
Traffic crashes in Arizona claimed the lives 4,635 people between 2014 and 2018. Over those five years, the number of annual traffic fatalities in the state increased by 31 percent, from 770 to 1,010. Arizona’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.53 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 was the fourth highest in the nation. The fatality rate on Arizona’s non-interstate rural roads in 2018 was the fifth highest in the U.S. and significantly higher than on all other roads in the state (2.36 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.39). Traffic crashes imposed a total of $6.4 billion in economic costs in Arizona in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $2.1 billion in economic costs.
“Our own research has shown billions of dollars of unfunded need for local transportation infrastructure. The great work done by TRIP makes the need real by focusing on quality of life impacts like congestion, safety and costs to the individual to maintain their vehicles,” said Rene Guillen, deputy director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. “This report makes it clear that as a high-growth state facing stagnant and declining transportation dollars our situation will only worsen without action. The information contained in this report serves as a great resource for lawmakers and stakeholders to use when discussing transportation funding options.”
Traffic congestion in Arizona is worsening, causing up to 62 annual hours of delay per driver and costing drivers as much as $1,089 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, congestion costs Arizona drivers a total of $4.5 billion annually.
Two percent of Arizona bridges (20 feet or longer) are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 37 percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 61 percent are in good condition.
The report also finds that Arizona’s current sources of transportation revenues will not keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs. This is largely a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles, which, combined, are expected to reduce significantly the revenue generated by the state’s motor fuel tax revenues. Average fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles in the U.S. has increased by 20 percent over the last decade and is expected to increase by 31 percent by 2030 and 51 percent by 2040.
The efficiency and condition of Arizona’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $332 billion in goods are shipped to and from Arizona, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. 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. Approximately 1.1 million full-time jobs in Arizona in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
“The lack of adequate, sustainable transportation funding in Arizona will lead to increasing deterioration on the state’s roads and bridges and even longer congestion-related delays for commuters, businesses and visitors,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Deteriorated, congested roads rob drivers of time and money while reducing the state’s competitive advantage and threatening economic growth. Making investments that will improve the condition and efficiency of Arizona’s transportation system will ensure that the state remains an attractive place to live, visit and do business.”