AASHTO Journal, 24 January 2014
Urban New Mexico motorists each pay an extra $458 on average per year for costs incurred from driving on deteriorating and congested roads, or $439 million total, according to a report released this week by transportation nonprofit TRIP.
TRIP’s report, “New Mexico Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” identifies some of the transportation infrastructure issues in the state. According to TRIP, 23 percent of New Mexico’s major roadways are in poor or mediocre condition, while about one in six of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Last August, TRIP released a report that named the 50 most vital transportation projects that need to occur in New Mexico to support economic growth and quality to life, many of which in the state’s urban areas that would address congestion and safety issues (see related AASHTO Journal story here).
The infrastructure upgrades and maintenance are necessary to keep up with driving demand, TRIP said. According to the report, vehicle miles traveled in New Mexico jumped from 16.1 billion in 1990 to 25.6 billion in 2012, an increase of 58 percent. In addition, vehicle miles traveled in the state are projected to increase by another 30 percent by 2030. TRIP’s report also says that safety for that increasing number of drivers is at stake on New Mexico’s roadways. The state’s fatality rate of 1.43 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is 27 percent higher than the national average of 1.13 fatalities for 100 million vehicle miles.
Additional investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure is vital to keep drivers safe and to continue to grow the network for the projected future increase in users, TRIP said.
“Addressing New Mexico’s need for a safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation system will require a significant investment boost at the federal, state and local levels,” said TRIP Executive Director Will Wilkins in a statement. “But not addressing the state’s need for an improved transportation system will result in even greater costs to the public.”
New Mexico Department of Transportation officials say the state is focusing on initiatives and transportation projects that will build the state’s economy.
“The Governor has introduced multiple tax incentives that will attract businesses to New Mexico,” said NMDOT Cabinet Secretary Tom Church. “The New Mexico Department of Transportation is making appropriate transportation decisions to promote economic development and improve our infrastructure.”
TRIP’s 18-page report on New Mexico’s transportation infrastructure is available here.