Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Ohio motorists a total of $12 billion statewide annually – as much a $2,180 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, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Ohio, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research organization.
The TRIP report, “Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” finds that throughout Ohio, approximately one-third of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition, seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, and increasing congestion is causing significant delays for commuters and businesses.
TRIP’s report examines the impact of additional funds provided largely by the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, and documents the state’s significant short-term and long-term transportation funding shortfalls. It includes lists of needed transportation projects in the state’s largest urban areas that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and needed projects in each area that lack funding to proceed.
The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Cincinnati, Cleveland-Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo urban areas. These costs come 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.
While the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) was able to invest $2 billion in the state’s transportation system in 2017 and $2.35 billion in 2018, investment is set to drop to $1.85 billion in 2019 and to $1.7 billion in 2021. ODOT estimates it will face a transportation funding shortfall of $14 billion through 2040.
Additional investment has allowed the state to move forward with needed transportation projects, but many projects remain stalled due to a lack of available funding. The chart below details projects outside the state’s largest urban areas that have adequate funding to proceed by 2023, and projects that lack funding to proceed prior to 2023.
The TRIP report finds that 23 percent of Ohio’s major urban roads are in poor condition and 12 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers a total of $3.5 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“The serious and in some cases horrendous condition of transportation infrastructure warrants immediate discussion and attention at the local, state and federal levels of government,” said Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard. “Our economy and future are directly tied to a transportation system of safe, dependable and efficient roads and bridges. The TRIP report clearly documents the existing condition of transportation infrastructure in Ohio and concisely illustrates the direct impact an efficient transportation system has on a healthy economy.”
Traffic congestion throughout Ohio is worsening, costing drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as much as $1,057 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Drivers in the most congested areas lose 44 hours each year – more than five working days – stuck in traffic congestion.
Seven percent of Ohio’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.
“The TRIP report succinctly outlines current transportation infrastructure conditions and how transportation impacts economic development in Ohio,” said Brian O. Martin, AICP, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. “Businesses look to relocate and grow in a region with a robust transportation system and our region continues to lag. Insufficient local and state resources require an immediate increase in federal funding to shore up the region’s deficient infrastructure so that we can compete. Our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. must address this issue sooner than later.”
Traffic crashes in Ohio claimed the lives of 5,360 people between 2012 and 2016 – an average of 1,072 fatalities per year. The fatality rate on Ohio’s non-interstate rural roads in 2016 was approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads in the state (1.84 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.71).
The efficiency and condition of Ohio’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $1.1 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Ohio, 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.
“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Ohio’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”