FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Report available at tripnet.org
CHARLESTON MOTORISTS LOSE $1850 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – $5.4 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND CONDITIONS WILL WORSEN WITHOUT INCREASED FUNDING
Eds.: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson and Myrtle Beach urban areas.
Charleston, SC – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost South Carolina motorists a total of $5.4 billion statewide annually – $1,850 per driver in the Charleston 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 South Carolina, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout South Carolina, two-thirds of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, ten percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient and the state has the highest rate of fatal traffic crashes in the nation. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with vehicle travel in South Carolina increasing 10 percent in the last three years.
Driving on Charleston area roads costs the average driver $1,850 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 Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson and Myrtle Beach urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
|South Carolina||$1.8 Billion||$1.8 Billion||$1.8 Billion||$5.4 Billion|
The TRIP report finds that 43 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Charleston urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $452 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“The current condition of our state’s roads places a significant cost on residents, both in time and money, but also puts them at risk each and every time they get in their car,” said Mary Graham, chief advancement officer for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. “With the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the nation, we must urge our elected officials to pass the infrastructure funding bill, H.3516, to fix our roads. This issue is not only costing South Carolinians time and money, it is costing their lives. It is time to pass the funding necessary to make our roads safe again.”
The South Carolina Department of Transportation currently spends $415 million annually on road and highway pavement repairs and reconstruction. This represents less than half (46 percent) of the $900 million needed annually to significantly improve the state’s major roads and highways.
Traffic congestion in the Charleston area is worsening, causing 41 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $1,047 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
Ten percent of South Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Charleston urban area, seven percent of bridges are structurally deficient.
Traffic crashes in South Carolina claimed the lives of 4,406 people between 2012 and 2016. South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. South Carolina’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly four times higher than on all other roads in the state (3.82 fatalities per 100 million VMT vs. 1.03). In the Charleston urban area, on average, 86 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of the last three years.
The efficiency and condition of South Carolina’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $333 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in South Carolina, mostly by truck. Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in South Carolina are carried by trucks and another 14 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, South Carolina’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”