Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Report available at

Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)

Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)

TRIP office 202.466.6706

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.

Myrtle Beach, 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 – $1,789 per driver in the Myrtle Beach 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 Myrtle Beach area roads costs the average driver $1,789 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.

  VOC Safety Congestion Total
Charleston $452 $351 $1,047 $1,850
Columbia $449 $316 $951 $1,716
Florence $472 $539 $272 $1,283
GSA Metro $492 $378 $509 $1,379
Myrtle Beach $527 $508 $754 $1,789
South Carolina $1.8 Billion $1.8 Billion $1.8 Billion $5.4 Billion

The TRIP report finds that 60 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Myrtle Beach urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $527 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“The TRIP report confirms what a significant cost burden our deteriorating roads have become for local residents,” said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “For too long, South Carolina politicians have failed to make our roads a priority, and now we know just how much that is costing taxpayers. This study, which reveals that Myrtle Beach area residents are experiencing some of the highest vehicle operating costs in our state, clearly demonstrates the need for our elected leaders to do the right thing and take action now.”

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.

“This is the year to finish the job on roads. The business community has long known the cost of losing when it comes to efforts to invest in our roads and bridges,” said Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “We will continue working with members of the General Assembly to give the people of South Carolina what they want and deserve: a long-term investment in our infrastructure, which is a long-term investment in our future.”

Traffic congestion in the Myrtle Beach area is worsening, causing 30 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $754 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 Myrtle Beach urban area, five 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 Myrtle Beach urban area, on average, 65 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.”