FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 25, 2019
Report available at: tripnet.org
MONTGOMERY AREA DRIVERS LOSE MORE THAN $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, Decatur-Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa urban areas.
Montgomery, Alabama– Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost the average Montgomery area driver $1,339 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, “Montgomery Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the Region’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility” finds that in the Montgomery area, nearly one third of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and two percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) are structurally deficient. The report also finds that the Montgomery 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, Decatur-Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa urban areas.
Driving on deficient Montgomery area roads costs the average driver $1,339 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 14 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Montgomery area are in poor condition and another 16 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $404 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.
“Infrastructure impacts both the local economy and quality of life for those who live in Montgomery,” said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. “From tech to healthcare to public safety and tourism – everyone benefits from a sound infrastructure, and we will continue to support these improvements in our area.”
Traffic congestion in the Montgomery area is worsening, causing 26 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $614 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.
“In order for Montgomery County to continue to develop and grow, we must have a strong infrastructure. It’s what drives industries here and keeps them here,” said Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. “We are committed to delivering quality and effective services to the citizens of Montgomery County. Without a doubt, we will continue to support improvements to our roads and bridges.”
In the Montgomery area, two percent (9 of 592) 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.
“Alabama’s transportation system is the backbone of the state’s economy and is crucial to our economic growth. Alabama’s current infrastructure challenges hinder job creation, erode our businesses’ bottom lines and create a serious safety concern for all those who travel our roadways,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Britt. “An investment in our roads and bridges is an investment in the safety and quality of life of all Alabamians.”
On average, 30 people were killed in traffic crashes in the Montgomery area each year from 2015 to 2017. The financial impact of traffic crashes costs each Montgomery area driver an average of $321 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 Montgomery Chamber will continue to make infrastructure a priority because it has a direct effect on our local economy,” said Willie Durham, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “Accessibility, roads and bridges are major factors for companies considering a new location, so we’re committed to building an inviting business ecosystem. Infrastructure improvements will not only attract new businesses, but will help us retain existing ones too.”
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 $1,339 yearly price tag for Montgomery 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.”