Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Oklahoma City motorists an additional $2,242 per driver annually due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays, according to a report released by TRIP, a national transportation research organization.
The TRIP report, “Oklahoma Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Oklahoma, 28 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and another 42 percent are in mediocre or fair condition costing Oklahomans a total of $4.9 billion annually. In the Greater Oklahoma City area, 81 percent of major roads were rated to be in poor or mediocre condition. Despite recent improvements, nearly a quarter of Oklahoma’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
The report noted that the state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. An average of 684 people were killed annually in crashes on Oklahoma’s roads from 2010 to 2014.
According to the report, increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, create jobs and support long-term economic growth in Oklahoma.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow. And for every $1 million spent on urban highway or intermodal expansion, an average of 7.2 local, long-term jobs were created and an additional 4.4 jobs were created outside the local area.
The report noted that while the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) revenue has increased in recent years, allowing for significant improvements to the transportation system, the state now faces potential cuts to transportation investment due to decreased state revenues. This has reduced appropriations to ODOT and other state agencies by seven percent during the current fiscal year. These reductions will cut $30.8 million from ODOT’s budget for future construction projects in the Eight-year Plan.
“The progress made by ODOT in recent years will slip away if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Additional transportation investment will improve the condition and efficiency of Oklahoma’s transportation system while stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and leaving a lasting asset for future generations.”