TRIP releases report on state’s crumbling roads, bridges

roadtripACROSS MISSISSIPPI — More than two-thirds of Jackson’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in either poor or mediocre condition, more than one fifth of the state’s bridges need repair or replacement, and Mississippi’s drivers experience growing congestion and delays, according to a report from TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.

In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, Mississippi’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 Mississippi.

The report “Mississippi 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.

Key findings in the report include:

• TRIP estimates that Mississippi 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 $1.6 billion annually 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 Jackson area driver $1,506 annually. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, the average driver loses $1,272 each year.

• Twenty-eight percent of Mississippi’s roads are either in poor or mediocre condition. Sixty-eight percent of Jackson-area major locally- and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition. In the Gulfport/Biloxi area, 46 percent of major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

• From 2007 to 2011, an average of 728 people were killed annually in Mississippi traffic crashes, a total of 3,638 fatalities.  Mississippi’s traffic fatality rate of 1.62 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011 was the fifth highest level nationally.

• The fatality rate on Mississippi’s non-interstate rural roads is more than double that on all other roads in the state (2.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.99).

• A total of 22 percent of Mississippi bridges are in need of repair, improvement or replacement. Fourteen percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and eight percent are functionally obsolete.

• Vehicle miles of travel in Mississippi increased 59 percent from 1990 to 2011 and are expected to increase another 35 percent by 2030.

• If a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in Mississippi could be cut by $470 million for the federal fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

• From 2007 to 2011, the federal government provided $1.27 for road improvements in Mississippi for every one dollar paid in federal motor fuel fees.   From 2007 to 2011, federal revenues accounted for 51 percent of state spending on Mississippi’s roads, highways and bridges.

• The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced roadway maintenance costs, and reduced emissions.

“This study is further evidence that Mississippi’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at an alarming rate,” said Mississippi House Transportation Chairman Robert Johnson. “The effects of weather and heavy traffic on our roadways is becoming a public safety issue that the legislature cannot ignore. Improving our transportation infrastructure is not only vital for public safety concerns, it directly impacts Mississippi’s ability to attract new businesses and retain existing industries. Our future economy depends on it.”

“These key transportation numbers in Mississippi 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 Mississippi will require a significant boost in state and federal funding for road, highway and bridge improvements.”

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