At a time when the state faces a large and growing transportation funding shortfall, more than half of Nevada’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition, vehicle travel has grown at the fastest rate in the nation, and Nevada drivers experience growing congestion and delays, according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization. The TRIP report, “Nevada Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” provides data on key transportation facts and figures in the state.
In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, Nevada’s rural roads have a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than all other roads in the state. Increased investment in transportation improvements could improve road and bridge conditions, ease congestion, boost safety and support long-term economic growth in Nevada.
“The gap between the available funding and Nevada’s highway needs continues to grow every time our highway infrastructure is assessed. We must invest in our infrastructure again to enable our economy to grow, diversify and stay competitive,” said Darrell Armuth, stakeholder of the Nevada Highway Users Coalition.
Nevada roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $2.1 billion each year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and traffic crashes. Driving on roads that are congested, deteriorated and that lack some desirable safety features costs the average Las Vegas area driver $1,464 annually.
According to the TRIP report, 51% of Nevada’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition. In the Las Vegas metro area, 56% of roads are in poor or mediocre condition. A total of 12% of Nevada’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Two percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. Structurally deficient bridges have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 10% of Nevada’s bridges are functionally obsolete. These bridges no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
Growing traffic congestion, particularly in the state’s urban areas, threatens to choke commuting and commerce. The average commuter in the Las Vegas metro area loses 44 hours each year stuck in congestion.
Traffic crashes in Nevada claimed the lives of 1,443 people between 2007 and 2011. The state’s traffic fatality rate of 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT) is higher than the national average of 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT. However, the traffic fatality rate in 2010 on Nevada’s noninterstate rural roads was 1.91 traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, nearly two times higher than the 0.98 traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT on all other roads and highways in the state. Roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes. Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion.
“These key transportation numbers in Nevada add up to trouble for the state’s residents in terms of deteriorated roads and bridges, reduced traffic safety and constrained economic development,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Improving road and bridge conditions, improving traffic safety and providing a transportation system that will support economic development in Nevada will require a significant boost in state and federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”