FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10:00 a.m., Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Click here for the full report, news conference recording, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.
BUFFALO-NIAGARA FALLS AREA MOTORISTS LOSE NEARLY $1,800 PER YEAR DRIVING ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME DESIRABLE SAFETY FEATURES – $26 BILLION STATEWIDE
Buffalo, NY – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost New York motorists a total of $26 billion statewide annually – $1,765 per driver in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls 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 New York, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.
The TRIP report, “New York Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout New York, nearly half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, ten percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 5,127 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018. New York’s major urban roads are 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 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica urban areas and statewide.
Driving on roads in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls urban area costs the average driver $1,765 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 the lack of adequate roadway safety 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 17 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Buffalo-Niagara Falls urban area are in poor condition and another 21 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $431 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 25 percent of New York’s major roads are in poor condition and 22 percent are in mediocre condition.
“As an advocate for traffic safety, AAA supports initiatives to provide safe roads and bridges for all motorists. The TRIP findings reinforce the need for a long-term transportation reauthorization bill in 2021 that would provide increased federal funding for New York and the nation’s infrastructure as a whole,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York. “AAA urges Congress and the incoming administration to prioritize transportation investments to ensure safe, efficient and reliable mobility here in New York and across the country.”
Traffic congestion in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls urban area causes 48 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costs drivers $965 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Buffalo-Niagara Falls drivers waste approximately 14.1 million gallons of fuel each year due to traffic congestion, an average of 23 gallons per motorist. Statewide, drivers lose $14.2 billion annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, vehicle travel in New York dropped by as much as 45 percent in April 2020 compared to vehicle travel during the same month the previous year, but rebounded to 10 percent below the previous year’s volume in September 2020.
“The continuing deterioration of Western New York’s roads and bridges impedes much needed economic development at a time that we cannot afford to lose a single dollar of private investment,” said Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “As the regional chamber of commerce, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership supports comprehensive local, state and federal investment into our transportation system to improve overall travel conditions and spur additional private sector economic activity that will put more people to work and benefit our community. TRIP’s report once again provides a detailed justification for why robust public investment in our transportation infrastructure would add quantifiable value to Buffalo Niagara’s employers and taxpayers.”
In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls urban area, eight percent of bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Statewide, ten percent of New York’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient.
Traffic crashes in New York claimed the lives 5,127 people between 2014 and 2018. New York’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.76 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 is lower than the national average of 1.13. In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls urban area, on average, 103 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2014 to 2018. The financial impact of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor was an average of $369 annually per each Buffalo-Niagara Falls area driver.
“With the deterioration of so many roads and bridges causing business and industry billions of dollars in increased costs per year, we appreciate the continued focus on this issue in the TRIP report,” said Johnny Evers, senior director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State. “It is only through careful study that New York State and the nation can address this problem. We hope the thoroughness of this study will lead to the change necessary to fix this ongoing business concern.”
The efficiency and condition of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $1.3 trillion in goods are shipped to and from New York, 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. The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in New York supports approximately 319,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. Approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent 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, New York’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”