FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Report available at: tripnet.org
ANNISTON-OXFORD-GADSDEN AREA DRIVERS LOSE $1,300 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – $5.3 BILLION STATEWIDE. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER ROAD AND BRIDGE DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION & HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS
Eds.: The statewide report includes regional pavement conditions, bridge conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the state’s largest urban areas. TRIP has also prepared customized regional reports for the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden, Birmingham, Florence, Huntsville-Decatur, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa urban areas.
Anniston, Alabama– Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost the average Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area driver $1,301 per year – a total of $5.3 billion statewide – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Adequate investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels is needed to 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 nonprofit transportation research organization.
The TRIP report, “Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the Region’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility” finds that in the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area, approximately one third of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and eight percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) are structurally deficient. The report also finds that the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. In addition to the statewide report, TRIP has also prepared regional reports for the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden, Birmingham, Florence, Huntsville-Decatur, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa urban areas.
Driving on deficient Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area roads costs the average driver $1,301 annually in 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 finds that 20 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area are in poor condition and another 13 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $488 each year in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Driving on rough roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $2 billion each year.
Traffic congestion in the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area is worsening, causing 13 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $328 each year in lost time and wasted fuel. Alabama drivers lose a total of $1.5 billion annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.
“Alabama’s road and bridge system is crucial to the operating effectiveness of the trucking industry, which faces 1.2 billion hours of delays each year due to congested roadways in our state,” said Greg Brown of B.R. Williams Trucking. “We want to ensure we are investing enough in our transportation system in order to provide efficient and safe roads for our drivers and the Alabama citizens to utilize daily.”
In the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area, eight percent (50 of 605) bridges are rated structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. Nearly half – 49 percent – of Alabama’s bridges are at least 50 years old.
“Investing in Alabama’s transportation system and addressing these challenges by improving the condition of the state’s roads and bridges will be a critical step in boosting our local and state economy and making Alabama an attractive place to live and work,” said Phil Webb, Calhoun County Area Chamber and Business Center board member.
On average, 44 people were killed in traffic crashes in the Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area each year from 2015 to 2017. The financial impact of traffic crashes costs each Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden area driver an average of $485 annually – a total of $1.8 billion statewide. Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.34 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.16. The fatality rate on Alabama’s non-interstate rural roads is more than two and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (2.38 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.87).
The buying power of the state’s 18 cents-per-gallon fuel tax, last raised in 1992, has been more than cut in half by inflation and increased fuel economy. The vast majority of Alabama’s current transportation budget is devoted to preserving the existing system, leaving only $150 million available annually for new projects.
The efficiency and condition of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $432 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by trucks, 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. More than 940,000 full-time jobs in Alabama in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the state’s transportation network.
“Driving on deficient roads comes with a $1,301 yearly price tag for Anniston-Oxford-Gadsden motorists – $5.3 billion statewide,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Adequate funding for the state’s transportation system would allow for smoother roads, more efficient mobility, enhanced safety, and economic growth opportunities while saving Alabama’s drivers time and money.”