Wednesday, February 20, 2019 
Report available at:    

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

Eds.: The TRIP Report includes regional pavement conditions, bridge conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces urban areas and statewide.

Las Cruces, New Mexico – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost each Las Cruces area driver $1,158 per year – a total of $2.7 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 New Mexico, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.

The TRIP report, “New Mexico Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that in the Las Cruces area, over half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. The report also finds that the Las Cruces area’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing delays and choking commuting and commerce. The report also includes a list of approximately $3 billion in needed but unfunded transportation projects across the state.

Driving on deficient Las Cruces area roads costs the average driver $1,158 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 chart below details costs to drivers of driving on deficient roads statewide and in New Mexico’s three largest urban areas.

  VOC Safety Congestion Total
Albuquerque $698 $291 $1,069 $2,058
Las Cruces $640 $253 $265 $1,158
Santa Fe $652 $289 $527 $1,468
New Mexico Statewide $1.2 Billion $726 Million $784 Million $2.7 Billion

“Our state is at a critical point to increase funding for road and highway improvements to keep people and products moving safely in New Mexico,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricia Lundstrom, chairman of the House Appropriations & Finance Committee. “I believe that strategic transportation investments are one of the best approaches to stimulate our economy and provide a competitive advantage for our state.”

The TRIP report finds that 20 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Las Cruces area are in poor condition and another 31 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $640 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 $1.2 billion each year.

“New Mexico needs a safe and reliable roads system throughout our state,” said New Mexico State Senator Clemente Sanchez, chairman of the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. “Our rural ranchers, farmers, and small businesses depend on well-maintained roadways for their livelihoods. So many of our children ride school buses every day and deserve safe roads.”

Traffic congestion in the Las Cruces area is worsening, causing nine annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $265 each year in lost time and wasted fuel. New Mexico drivers lose a total of $784 million annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.

“New Mexico is in the enviable position of having huge budget surpluses for FY 19 and FY 20. The extra revenues will exceed $1 billion dollars for each of these years,” said New Mexico State Representative Cathrynn Brown. “The increases are due primarily to the hard work and productivity of the New Mexico oil and gas industry. As a point of reference, the state’s overall budget for FY 20 will be just north of $7 billion dollars. The New Mexico Legislature and the Governor would be wise to invest a substantial portion of the budget surplus in public infrastructure, especially roads, highways, and bridges. In terms of infrastructure, we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Statewide, six percent of bridges – a total of 251 bridges – are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. In the Las Cruces area, six percent of bridges are structurally deficient. Nearly half – 48 percent – of New Mexico’s bridges are at least 50 years old.

“Many of our constituents are concerned about our roads and aging infrastructure, which is why we are making this a priority,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricio Ruiloba, chairman of the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee. “Improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure so that New Mexicans have safe roads, and ensuring that our businesses can have an efficient and less costly way of transporting goods and services is critical. In our rural state, road infrastructure is essential to our economic growth. We recognize the need to improve and expand our transportation infrastructure so all New Mexicans can benefit. As we continue to find new ways to improve roads, this funding supports our state’s economic development and provides safe travel for our families, students and business communities. Good roads reduce vehicle maintenance costs and fuel consumption, and make travel safer for our motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and students.”

In the Las Cruces area, on average, 21 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2013 to 2017. The financial impact of traffic crashes cost each Las Cruces area driver an average of $253 annually – a total of $726 million statewide. New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.16.

The efficiency and condition of New Mexico’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $124 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New Mexico, 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. Nearly 350,000 full-time jobs in New Mexico in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

“Driving on deficient roads comes with a $1,158 yearly price tag for Las Cruces area motorists – $2.7 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 New Mexico’s drivers time and money.”