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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   Contact: Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
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onday, June 27, 2016                                                   Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Report available at: tripnet.org                                        Fact Sheet and infographics available here
                                                        
CONDITIONS ON NEW YORK’S INTERSTATE ROADS AND BRIDGES ARE AMONG MOST DETERIORATED IN U.S. AS NATION MARKS 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTERSTATE SYSTEM. TRAVEL IS SURGING ON INTERSTATE SYSTEM, WHICH CONTINUES TO SAVE LIVES, TIME AND MONEY BUT IS INCREASINGLY CONGESTED AND LACKS FUNDING FOR NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS

Eds.: The report’s Appendix includes the following data for the Interstate system in all 50 states:  pavement and bridge conditions, congestion levels, fatality rates, lives saved annually, and travel trends including Interstate use by large trucks.

Washington, DC –Roads and bridge conditions on New York’s Interstate Highway System are among the most deteriorated in the nation as the U.S. Interstate marks its 60th anniversary this week. According to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization, eight percent of New York’s Interstate bridges are structurally deficient, the fourth highest rate in the nation. Structurally deficient bridges often have deterioration of the major components of the bridge. Seventeen percent of pavement on New York’s Interstate system are in poor or mediocre condition, the tenth highest rate in the nation.

The TRIP report, The Interstate Highway System Turns 60: Challenges to Its Ability to Continue to Save Lives, Time and Money finds that the Interstate Highway System faces increasing congestion, unprecedented levels of travel – particularly by large trucks – and insufficient funding to make needed repairs and improvements.  The nation’s most critical transportation link continues to save lives with its enhanced safety features and is largely well-preserved, but an aging Interstate system will increasingly require more long-term, costly repairs.

The chart below details the top 10 states whose Interstate systems have the highest share of pavements in poor and mediocre condition and the highest rate of structurally deficient bridges.

While the Interstate Highway System represents only 2.5 percent of lane miles in the U.S., it carries 25 percent of the nation’s vehicle travel. The system is increasingly congested, with truck travel growing at a rate twice that of overall Interstate travel. And, while the nation’s Interstates tend to be in better condition than other roads and bridges, the aging system lacks the required funding for needed improvements and repairs.

John Corlett, Legislative Committee Chairman of AAA New York State said, “AAA believes that it is time to build on the Interstate’s 60-year legacy.  A safe, modern and efficient 21st century transportation system can be achieved with smart investments in infrastructure and technology.  We urge lawmakers to keep their eye on the ball to identify a sustainable transportation funding source for the future.”

The current backlog of needed improvements to the Interstate Highway System, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is $189 billion. The nation’s current transportation investment is less than two-thirds (61 percent) of the amount needed to keep Interstates in good condition and make the improvements necessary to meet the nation’s growing need for personal and commercial mobility. And, while the recently enacted federal surface transportation program, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST Act) provides a modest increase in spending, it lacks a long-term, sustainable revenue source. By 2020 the annual shortfall into the nation’s Highway Trust Fund will be $16 billion annually.

“The United States moves in large part thanks to the efforts of many elected officials, organizations and citizens whose shared foresight led to the construction of the national interstate system,” said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “Now, as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Interstate act, it’s clear that our investments in preserving the system are not keeping up even as our nation continues to grow.”

Since 2000 travel on the Interstate system is increasing two times faster than new lane capacity is being added. As a result, 43 percent of urban Interstate highways are considered congested during peak hours and the average annual amount of travel per Interstate lane mile increased by 11 percent from 2000 to 2014. Thirty-five percent of New York’s urban Interstates are congested during peak travel times. Across the nation, travel by combination trucks on the Interstate increased by 29 percent from 2000 to 2014, more than double the 14 percent rate of growth for all Interstate vehicle travel during the same period. Combination trucks make up 18 percent of rural Interstate travel in New York.

“It's hard to believe it's been 60 years since the Interstate Highway System was developed,” said Ed Mortimer, executive director for transportation infrastructure at the United States Chamber of Commerce. “The vision of President Eisenhower has enabled economic mobility throughout our nation and showed we can accomplish big things.  As we work to maintain, and in many cases rebuild this great system, let's continue to think big as we work to fund and finance an improved, smarter network.”

In 2015 vehicle miles of travel on the Interstate Highway System was four percent higher than in 2014 and through the first three months of 2016 travel on the Interstate Highway System was five percent higher than during the first three months of 2015.

“While both Congress and the State Legislature should be applauded for recently passing long-term highway funding commitments, this report clearly shows the deterioration of our Interstate system after years of neglect,” said Mike Elmendorf, president & CEO of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of New York State.  “As we acknowledge the 60th anniversary of the Interstate system, it’s equally important that we commit the resources to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and create good paying jobs.  Our nation and our state can’t be open business if our roads and bridges are closed.”

While the condition of Interstate pavement and bridges is acceptable, some deficiencies exist. Twelve percent of Interstate highways are in poor or mediocre condition. Three percent of Interstate bridges are structurally deficient and an additional 18 percent are functionally obsolete. Structurally deficient bridges have significant deterioration of the major components of the bridge, while functionally obsolete bridges no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

"These latest figures from TRIP are beyond disappointing and should serve as a wakeup call to policy makers at all levels of government," said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. "Thankfully, after years of hard work by AGC, The Business Council and our other partners in the Rebulid NY coalition, this year's state budget did include funding parity for upstate roads and bridges. But it's not enough. Statistics show that every dollar spent on infrastructure investment returns three to the overall economy. We need to increase our infrastructure investment and we need to do it now."

“While we applaud Governor Cuomo and the legislature for making substantial investments in infrastructure across New York State as a part of this past year’s final enacted state budget, it is clear from TRIP’s report that continued attention and funding for New York’s infrastructure assets are necessary,” said Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “A safe, efficient and reliable network of roads and bridges is essential to the economic future and public safety of Upstate New York.”

The design of the Interstate – which includes a separation from other roads and rail lines, a minimum of four lanes, paved shoulders and median barriers – makes it more than twice as safe to travel on as all other roadways. Nationwide, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on the Interstate in 2014 was 0.54, compared to 1.26 on non-Interstate routes. In New York the non-Interstate fatality rate was more than three times higher than the Interstate fatality rate – 0.27 versus 0.94. TRIP estimates that the Interstate Highway System saved 5,359 lives nationwide in 2014 and 182 lives in New York. This estimate is based on the number of additional fatalities that would have occurred had Interstate traffic been carried by other major roadways, which often lack the safety features common to Interstate routes.

“The long-term vision that helped establish the current Interstate system 60 years ago is needed again today,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “In order to maintain personal and commercial mobility, transportation investment and a sustainable, long-term funding source for the federal surface transportation program must remain a priority.”