Aging Transportation Infrastructure across North Carolina Costing Drivers

AASHTO Journal, 28 March 2014

Congested and aging roadways, deficient bridges, and transportation infrastructure lacking in some safety features in North Carolina are costing drivers about $6.5 billion each year, or as much as $1,350 in some areas, according to a report published this week by transportation nonprofit TRIP in conjunction with the North Carolina Chamber Foundation.

The report, “North Carolina Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility” found that driving on North Carolina’s aging roads and bridges costs drivers money each year statewide, but especially in cities: $1,513 for Charlotte drivers, $1,353 for those in Wilmington, $1,069 for drivers in the Triad, $1,005 for those in Raleigh-Durham, and $949 for the average Asheville driver.

That cost is due in part to the fact that roads and bridges across the state are falling into poor or mediocre condition. In fact, TRIP estimates that 48 percent of Wilmington roads are in poor or mediocre condition. That number is high in other cities: 44 percent in Charlotte; 36 percent in the Triad; 28 percent in Asheville; and 26 percent in Raleigh-Durham. In addition, 30 percent of North Carolina Bridges are in need of repair, improvement, or replacement. Congestion is also a problem for North Carolina drivers. In the state’s major cities, the average driver loses between 18 to 40 hours per year sitting in traffic.

While additional investment is needed in the state’s transportation infrastructure for the sake of the average driver, the state also is responsible for shipping $364 billion in goods each year and receiving another $337 billion, signaling the importance of a strong transportation network for the economy. TRIP says strong federal investment is needed to keep the state competitive and safe for citizens and businesses alike.

“A lack of adequate funding of the federal program may result in a significant cut in federal funding for the state’s roads, highways and bridges,” according to TRIP. “In fact, the impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as summer of 2014, when the balance in the highway Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, which will trigger delays in the federal reimbursements to North Carolina and other states for road, highway and bridge projects, which would likely result in states delaying or postponing numerous projects. And if a lack of adequate revenue into the Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in North Carolina could be cut by $1 billion for the federal fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2014.”

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said the report underscores the urgency to fully invest in the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“We are glad the Chamber has helped focus public attention on this critical issue. The report confirms what we’ve known for some time. We are dealing with an infrastructure system that requires constant maintenance. Across the nation and in our state, we see declining transportation revenue projections. At the same time we are focused on leveraging infrastructure to strengthen the economy and create jobs,” said NCDOT Chief Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson. “We created the Strategic Transportation Investment law to address part of this concern, using a data-driven formula to meet the greatest transportation needs, and more efficiently use existing funds. Our next step, in the near future, is to address the revenue gap. We are looking at alternative ways to provide additional project funding and cost savings, through things like private-public partnerships, the use of GARVEE bonds, the design-build-finance construction process, managed lanes and other revenue sources.”

TRIP’s 24-page report is available here.

This entry was posted in General News, Legislative / Political, News. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.