Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Rocky Moretti  202.262.0714 (cell)
Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)

Click here for the full report, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.


Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Arkansas motorists $3.2 billion statewide annually – $1,264 per driver in Northwest Arkansas.

Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve roads and bridges, boost safety and support long-term economic growth in Arkansas, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.

The TRIP report, Arkansas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Arkansas, more than half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, 5% of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 2,551 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018.

“The findings of the TRIP report confirm why voters’ approval of Issue 1 on Nov. 3 is so important to Northwest Arkansas and our state as a whole,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, a private nonprofit organization focused on the economic future of the region. “The Arkansas Department of Transportation made great progress on roadways after voters first approved Issue 1 in 2012, and it’s so important to continue investing in better, safer roads to keep up with the incredible growth our region continues to see.”

Arkansas’ urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. The TRIP report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, congestion data, highway safety data and cost breakdowns for the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock-North Little Rock- Conway, Pine Bluff, West Memphis urban areas and statewide.

Driving on roads in Northwest Arkansas costs the average driver $1,264 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. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 10% of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers urban area that’s more commonly referred to as Northwest Arkansas are in poor condition and 22% are in mediocre condition. Statewide, 26% of Arkansas’ major roads are in poor condition, and 26% are in mediocre condition.

Traffic congestion in Northwest Arkansas is worsening, causing 33 annual hours of delay for the average motorist.. The state’s 2.1 million drivers lose $780 million annually in time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.

Traffic crashes in Arkansas claimed 2,551 lives between 2014 and 2018. Arkansas’ overall traffic fatality rate of 1.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven in 2018 was the 12th highest rate in the nation and higher than the national average (1.13 deaths).

In Northwest Arkansas, 5% of bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration. The statewide average for bridges is 5%.

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 often see businesses relocate to areas with better transportation systems.

Investing in roadways also creates jobs in Arkansas. The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in the state supports approximately 35,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. Approximately 594,000 full-time jobs in Arkansas in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing depend on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the federal, state and local levels of government,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Arkansas’ transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”