Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Maine motorists a total of $1 billion statewide annually – $1,035 per driver in the Portland urban 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, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Maine, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Maine Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Maine, 26 percent of major urban locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition. Thirty-four percent of Maine’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, more than 700 people were killed in crashes on Maine’s roads from 2010 to 2014.
Driving on deficient roads costs each Portland area driver $1,035 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 costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in Portland and a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that 56 percent of major roads in the Portland urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $524 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“Maine’s transportation system is the cornerstone of the state’s economy,” said Paul Bradbury, P.E., Airport Director, Portland International Jetport. “Every business in Maine depends on it, as do our citizens. That’s why Question #6, the transportation bond on Maine’s statewide ballot, is so important. It will make needed investments in our bridges and roads, as well as our airports, marine and rail facilities, and trails systems, while leveraging millions of dollars in federal funds. This is critical for the safety of the traveling public, and for the many businesses across Maine that depend on our system to ship their products to market.”
Traffic congestion in the Portland area is worsening, causing 14 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $332 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
A total of 34 percent of Maine’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Fifteen percent of Maine’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 19 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. In the Portland urban area, 11 percent of bridges are structurally deficient and 25 percent are functionally obsolete.
Traffic crashes in Maine claimed the lives of 737 people between 2010 and 2014. Maine’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.92 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.08. But, the fatality rate on Maine’s rural non-Interstate roads was 1.32 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2014, nearly three and a half times higher than the 0.39 fatality rate on all other roads and highways in the state.
The efficiency and condition of Maine’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $89 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Maine, mostly by truck. Eighty percent of the goods shipped annually to and from Maine are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the state and local levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate investment, Maine’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.”
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