Lack of funding will lead to further deterioration, increased congestion and higher costs to motorists.
Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Kentucky motorists a total of $4.5 billion statewide annually – $2,025 per driver in the Northern Kentucky 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 Kentucky, according to a new report released last month by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit .
The TRIP report, “Kentucky Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Kentucky, nearly 30 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 3,773 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018. Kentucky’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce.
Driving on roads in the Northern Kentucky area costs the average driver $2,025 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 the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.
The TRIP report finds that 21 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Northern Kentucky area are in poor condition and another 24 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $562 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, eight percent of Kentucky’s major roads are in poor condition and 21 percent are in mediocre condition.
Seven percent of Kentucky’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Northern Kentucky area, six percent of bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient.
“Infrastructure investment in Kentucky is a top priority for our business community in 2020, not only for moving commerce and improving bottom lines, but as an important tool for business and job attraction,” said Rebecca Wood, COO and vice president of investor development for Greater Louisville Inc. “As a major logistics and manufacturing hub that is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, it is vital to Kentucky’s economic future that lawmakers increase funding and support for infrastructure and roads.”
Traffic congestion in the Northern Kentucky area is worsening, causing 52 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average Northern Kentucky driver $1,110 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, drivers lose $1.7 billion annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.
The efficiency and condition of Kentucky’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $578 billion in goods are shipped to and from Kentucky, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Approximately 900,000 full-time jobs in Kentucky in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.
“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the federal, state and local levels of government,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Kentucky’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”