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ROADS/BRIDGES: TRIP: Rough roads cost Texas drivers

Driving on deficient roads costs each Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area driver $1,740 per year in extra operating costs

Asphalt News TRIP July 23, 2014
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Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lacking desirable safety features cost Texas motorists a total of $25.1 billion statewide annually—more than $1,700 per driver in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 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 and bridge conditions, boost safety and support long-term economic growth in Texas, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.
 
The report, “Texas Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Texas, 16% of major urban roads and highways provide motorists with a rough ride. Nearly one-fifth of Texas’ bridges are in need of replacement, repairs or modernization. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And Texas’ traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the national fatality rate.
 
Driving on deficient roads costs each Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area driver $1,740 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 cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Texas’ largest urban areas: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston and San Antonio.
 
The TRIP report finds that a total of 50% of major roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington urban area are in either poor or mediocre condition, costing the average area motorist an additional $508 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Traffic congestion in the area is worsening, causing 45 annual hours of delay for the average Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington motorist and costing each driver $957 annually in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel.
 
A total of 19% of Texas’ state-maintained bridges are currently in need of replacement, repair or modernization. Two percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. An additional 17% of the state’s bridges are designated as functionally obsolete because they no longer meet current highway design standards.
 
Traffic crashes in Texas claimed the lives of 16,041 people between 2009 and 2013. Texas’ traffic fatality rate of 1.41 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel is 27% higher than the national average of 1.11. The traffic fatality rate on Texas’ noninterstate rural roads was 2.63 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel, more than two-and-a-half times higher than the 0.99 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel on all other roads and highways in the state.
 
“These high costs are like a hidden tax on our motorists; we’d all be better off investing a little more in improving our transportation infrastructure and avoiding these costs,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, chairman of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition.

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