FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Click here for the full report, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.
CONNECTICUT MOTORISTS LOSE $6 BILLION ANNUALLY ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,120 PER DRIVER IN SOME AREAS. 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 – as much as $2,120 per driver in some urban areas – 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 deficient Connecticut roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $6 billion 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 34 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Connecticut are in poor condition and another 28 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s motorists an additional $1.9 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Seventeen percent of the state’s major roads are in fair condition and the remaining 21 percent are in good condition.
Six percent of Connecticut’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Sixty-six percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 29 percent are in good 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.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle travel in Connecticut dropped by as much as 51 percent in April 2020 (as compared to vehicle travel during the same month the previous year), but rebounded to 17 percent below the previous year’s volume in December 2020. Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Connecticut drivers $2.6 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $1,037 and spend as many as 57 hours per year sitting in 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.”
From 2015 to 2019, 1,380 people were killed in traffic crashes in Connecticut. In 2019, Connecticut had 0.79 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, lower than the national average of 1.11. The traffic fatality rate on Connecticut’s rural, non-Interstate roadways in 2019 was approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads (1.70 per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.70). From 2015 to 2019, there were 267 pedestrian and 16 bicycle fatalities in Connecticut, 21 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities in the state. Traffic crashes imposed a total of $4.5 billion in economic costs in Connecticut in 2019 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.5 billion in economic costs.
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.”