Jackson, MS(PRESS RELEASE) – Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Mississippi motorists a total of $2.25 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,879 in some areas – 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 Mississippi, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Mississippi Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Mississippi, 22 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and another 42 percent are in mediocre or fair condition. Twenty percent of Mississippi’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 an average of 615 people were killed annually in crashes on Mississippi’s roads from 2010 to 2014.
Driving on deficient roads costs Mississippi motorists $2.25 billion 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. The TRIP report calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Hattiesburg and Jackson urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
“The TRIP report once again demonstrates the importance of investing in Mississippi’s transportation infrastructure,” said Scott Waller, executive vice president and COO of the Mississippi Economic Council. “It provides additional details regarding the enormous costs Mississippians already face, and the consequences of failing to act. More importantly, it amplifies the safety issues that exist as a result of poor road and bridge conditions and the importance of protecting our citizens.”
Traffic congestion in Mississippi is worsening, costing the state’s drivers $529 million annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
A total of 20 percent of Mississippi’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards. Thirteen percent of Mississippi’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional seven 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.
Traffic crashes in Mississippi claimed the lives of 3,073 people between 2010 and 2014. Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.54 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.08. Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate is the fourth highest in the nation. The state’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly four and a half times higher than the rate on all other roads in the state (2.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel versus 0.58). TRIP estimates that roadway features may be a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
Mississippi faces a significant shortfall in funds needed to maintain and improve its transportation system. The state currently faces a backlog of $6.6 billion dollars in funds needed to address needed repairs and improvements to Mississippi’s transportation system. A recent report by the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) found that Mississippi will need $375 million annually in new revenue to address immediate transportation needs. Of the $375 million, $300 million is needed for improvements to the state-maintained system, and $75 million is needed to address the local system. The MEC report found that an additional $375 million in annual transportation investment would generate nearly 4,000 new direct and indirect jobs in the construction industry, additional state and local tax revenue of $15 million annually, and an overall annual economic benefit of more than $440 million.
The efficiency and condition of Mississippi’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $91 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Mississippi and another $104 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Mississippi, mostly by truck.
“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without additional transportation funding Mississippi’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, the state will miss out on opportunities for economic growth and quality of life will suffer.”