Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Connecticut motorists a total of $6.1 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,378 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.
Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local and state levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Connecticut, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Connecticut Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Connecticut, nearly four-fifths of major, locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 8 percent of Connecticut’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And, more than 1,200 people were killed on the state’s roads from 2011 to 2015.
Driving deficient Connecticut roads costs the state’s drivers $6.1 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 the lack of adequate roadway safety features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Bridgeport-Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas.
Overall, 57 percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 22 percent are in mediocre condition. Ten percent of the state’s major roads are rated in fair condition and the remaining 11 percent are rated in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs Connecticut drivers an additional $2.2 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“A generation ago, shortsighted and sporadic decisions were made that grossly underfunded our infrastructure and crippled our current transportation system,” said Representative Chris Perone, chief transportation financial officer for Connecticut House Democrats. “A strong economy is fueled by an efficient transportation system and making that happen needs to remain a priority.”
Traffic congestion in the state’s largest urban areas is worsening, causing as much as 49 annual hours of delay for some motorists and costing drivers as much as $1,174 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
“Our roads and bridges are decaying and the money in the state’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) is drying up. We are standing on the precipice of tragedy,” said Representative Tony Guerrera, house chair of the Connecticut Legislature’s Transportation Committee.
“According to the TRIP report, a majority of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition. With electronic tolls we could have a dedicated revenue stream to lock away in the STF and ensure funding for our roads and bridges for decades to come.”
Eight percent of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.
Traffic crashes in Connecticut claimed the lives of 1,246 people between 2011 and 2015, an average of 249 fatalities per year. While Connecticut’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.13, the state’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly double the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.
The efficiency and condition of Connecticut’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $489 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Connecticut, mostly by truck. Eighty-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Connecticut are carried by trucks and another 11 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“The condition of Connecticut’s transportation system will worsen in the future without additional funding, leading to even higher costs for drivers,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “In order to promote economic growth, foster quality of life and get drivers safety and efficiently to their destination, Connecticut will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”