Thursday, April 27, 2017        
Report available at:                                                                           

Contact: Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
TRIP office 202.466.6706

Eds.: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Johnson/Wyandotte County, Topeka and Wichita urban areas.

Wichita, KS – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Kansas motorists a total of $2.7 billion statewide annually – $1,597 per driver in the Wichita urban area – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. The ability of the Kansas Department of Transportation to repair and improve the state’s transportation system has been hampered by the transfer of $2.4 billion in state highway funds to state general funds between FY2011 and FY2017, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization. Governor Sam Brownback’s FY 2018/FY 2019 budget proposal would increase transfers of state highway funds to state general funds and other state agencies to $3.4 billion from FY 2011 to FY 2019.

The TRIP report, Kansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Kansas, more than one-third of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and nine percent of Kansas’s locally and state-maintained 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. Kansas’ rural roads have a traffic fatality rate four-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads.

Driving on Wichita area roads costs the average driver $1,597 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 the lack of adequate roadway safety features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Johnson/Wyandotte County, Topeka and Wichita urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

  VOC Congestion Safety Total
Johnson/Wyandotte $510 $933 $153 $1,596
Topeka $819 $388 $246 $1,453
Wichita $508 $837 $252 $1,597
Kansas Statewide $1 Billion $1 Billion $730 Million $2.7 Billion

The TRIP report finds that 54 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Wichita urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $508 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. The report found that deferring maintenance on roads and highways can greatly increase long-term repair costs, with each dollar of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges being found to cost an additional $4 to $5 in needed future repairs.

“Next week, the Kansas Legislature returns to decide the budget for the next two years, including what to invest in maintaining our roads,” said Bernie Koch, executive director of the Kansas Economic Progress Council.  “Funding for basic preservation has been slashed in recent years. The TRIP report only increases our strong belief that this is a critical time. If we don’t invest in our roads now, we will pay a big price in the future to keep them safe.”

Traffic congestion in the Wichita area is worsening, causing 35 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $837 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

“Our Kansas grain producers continue to improve production and grow their business by growing more grain,” said Ted Schultz, chief operating officer of TMI Grain.  “That means we have to transport more grain from the field to our co-ops.  It’s essential to have well-maintained roads for agriculture and ag-related business to continue to grow and stay healthy.”

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

Traffic crashes in Kansas claimed the lives of 1,881 people between 2011 and 2015, an average of 376 fatalities per year. Kansas’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.13 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the same as the national average. In the Wichita urban area, on average, 48 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of the last three years.

The efficiency and condition of Kansas’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $395 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Kansas, mostly by truck. Eighty-two percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Kansas are carried by trucks and another 12 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“The condition of Kansas’s transportation system will worsen in the future as additional monies are diverted away from the highway fund, leading to even higher costs for drivers,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “In order to promote economic growth, foster quality of life and get drivers safety and efficiently to their destination, Kansas will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”