FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Click here for the full report, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.
HARTFORD METRO AREA MOTORISTS LOSE MORE THAN $2,100 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – $6 BILLION STATEWIDE. CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FACES $400 MILLION ANNUAL FUNDING SHORTFALL FOR NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS
Hartford, CT – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Connecticut motorists a total of $6 billion statewide annually – $2,120 per driver in the Hartford 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 short- and long-term economic growth in Connecticut, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.
The TRIP report, “Transportation’s Vital Role in Connecticut’s Recovery,” finds that throughout Connecticut, 62 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 1,380 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2015-2019. Connecticut’s major urban roads are congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce.
Driving on roads in the Hartford urban area costs the average driver $2,120 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 features likely were a contributing factor. The report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Bridgeport-Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas and statewide. 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 28 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Hartford urban area are in poor condition and another 27 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $615 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 34 percent of Connecticut’s major roads are in poor condition and 28 percent are in mediocre condition.
In the Hartford urban area, five percent of bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Statewide, six percent of Connecticut’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient and 66 percent are rated in fair condition. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In Connecticut, 62 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier – the fourth highest share in the nation.
“It’s hardly news that Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure needs improvements,” said Connecticut State Senator Will Haskell, senate chair of the Connecticut General Assembly Transportation Committee. “But this report sheds light on the depth and breadth of the problem. Now that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s time to redouble our commitment to getting Connecticut moving again. More specifically, we know that investing in public transit will create jobs and reduce carbon emissions. In my new role as the Senate Chair of the Transportation Committee, I look forward to advocating for a 21st century infrastructure network.”
Traffic congestion in the Hartford urban area causes 50 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costs the average Hartford driver $922 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, drivers lose $2.6 billion annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.
“As the advocacy organization for the motoring public, the TRIP report findings that the majority of Connecticut’s roadways are in ‘poor or mediocre condition’ are extremely troubling,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for the AAA Allied Group. “AAA research indicates that one third of U.S. drivers are unable to pay for unexpected vehicle repairs, suggesting that thousands of dollars in damage would leave them stranded, without transportation that may be critical to their livelihood. Connecticut must do better.”
Traffic crashes in Connecticut claimed the lives 1,380 people from 2015 to 2019. Connecticut’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2019 is lower than the national average of 1.11. In the Hartford urban area, on average, 63 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2015 to 2019. The financial impact of traffic crashes in which the lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor was an average of $583 annually per each Hartford area driver.
The efficiency and condition of Connecticut’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $306 billion in goods are shipped to and from Connecticut, 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. Approximately 731,000 full-time jobs in Connecticut 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.
“The TRIP report provides ample substantiation for many valid concerns related to the poor condition of our nation’s, region’s and state’s multi-modal transportation network, as did the many similar reports produced over the years by AASHTO, APTA, the TRB and many others,” said Kevin Grigg, executive committee member of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and president and CEO of Fuss & O’Neill, Inc. “It is well past time that we step-up and take seriously our various responsibilities to ensure the level of safety and economic vibrancy that our citizens have come to expect from our transportation system. As a result, I heartily endorse the report’s clarion call for the increased, dedicated and secure funding needed to return our transportation infrastructure to at least a state of good repair.”
A lack of sufficient funding at the local, state and federal levels will make it difficult to adequately maintain and improve the state’s existing transportation system. The Connecticut Department of Transportation estimates that its current investment in road, highway and bridge repairs is $400 million less than is needed annually to allow the state to improve the condition of its roads, highways and bridges to a state of good repair. Connecticut’s challenge to improve the reliability, condition and safety of its roads, highways and bridges is threatened by a significant reduction in highway investment starting in 2021.
“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, Connecticut’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”