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Note: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery urban areas. Infographics for each area can be downloaded here.
Mobile, AL – Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Alabama motorists a total of $4.2 billion statewide annually – $1,437 per driver in the Mobile 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 Alabama, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Alabama Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Alabama, 19 percent of major urban roads are in poor condition and eight percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, nearly 4,300 people were killed in crashes on Alabama’s roads from 2011 to 2015.
Driving on deficient roads costs the average Mobile area driver $1,437 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 Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that 32 percent of major roads in the Mobile urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $379 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“At the state level, we have not increased our investment in our infrastructure since 1992. As a result, inflation and fuel efficiency standards have decreased the value of that same investment in 1992 which has hindered our ability to make capacity investments in our state’s infrastructure,” said Volkert Inc. CEO and chairman of the board Perry Hand, who is the Business Council of Alabama’s first vice chairman. “In order for us to get ahead in regards to economic development, we must increase investment in our roads and bridges in order to provide the safe and efficient transportation system that our Alabama businesses and citizens deserve.”
Traffic congestion in the Mobile area is worsening, causing 30 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $670 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
“Reliable and well-functioning road and bridge infrastructure is the cornerstone of a solid economy. In addition to the safety of our citizens, it’s imperative that we are able to guarantee reliable and efficient transport of goods for Mobile’s growing manufacturing supply chain,” said Bill Sisson, president and CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. “Transportation and distribution is a targeted industry the Mobile Area Chamber continues to expand. Southwest Alabama remains in dire need of transportation infrastructure funding, in particular for a new 1-10 Mobile River Bridge and accompanying I-10 realignment. We must work together to provide for long-term solutions to address Alabama’s aging and insufficient infrastructure.”
Eight percent of Alabama’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Mobile urban area, three percent of bridges are structurally deficient.
Traffic crashes in Alabama claimed the lives of 4,280 people between 2011 and 2015. Alabama’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.26 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on Alabama’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.96 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, more than double the 0.92 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state. In the Mobile urban area, on average, 31 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of the last three years.
The efficiency and condition of Alabama’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $436 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Alabama, mostly by truck. Eighty-one percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Alabama are carried by trucks and another 12 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, Alabama’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.”