Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Kentucky motorists a total of $4 billion statewide annually – as much as $1,899 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays, according to TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.
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, the organization stated.
The TRIP report, “Kentucky Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Kentucky, 16 percent of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor condition and 8 percent of Kentucky’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 3,500 people were killed in crashes on Kentucky’s roads from 2011 to 2015.
Driving on Kentucky’s roads costs drivers a total of $4 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 finds that 16 percent of Kentucky’s major urban roads are in poor condition, while 44 percent are in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 40 percent are in good condition. Driving on rough roads costs Kentucky drivers $1 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
Traffic congestion in Kentucky is worsening, particularly in the state’s largest urban areas. Kentucky drivers lose $1.6 billion annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.
Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.
Eight percent of Kentucky’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.
Traffic crashes in Kentucky claimed the lives of 3,538 people between 2011 and 2015. Kentucky’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.56 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is the fourth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.
The efficiency and condition of Kentucky’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $502 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Kentucky, mostly by truck. Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Kentucky are carried by trucks and another 13 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“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, Kentucky’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.”