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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           Contact: Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
June 1, 2017                                                          Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)          
Report available at:
tripnet.org                               TRIP office 202.466.6706

GULFPORT-BILOXI-PASCAGOULA MOTORISTS LOSE NEARLY $1,300 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME DESIRABLE SAFETY FEATURES - $2.9 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND CONDITIONS WILL WORSEN WITHOUT INCREASED FUNDING 
Eds.: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Southaven-DeSoto County urban areas.  Info-graphics for each area can be downloaded here.

Gulfport, MS – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Mississippi motorists a total of $2.9 billion statewide annually - $1,267 per driver in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascaguola urban area - 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 Mississippi, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, Mississippi Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Mississippi, nearly two-thirds of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 12 percent of Mississippi’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 3,100 people were killed on the state’s roads from 2011 to 2015. Mississippi had the third highest traffic fatality rate in the nation in 2015.

Driving on Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula area roads costs the average driver $1,267 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 Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Southaven-DeSoto County urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 41 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $512 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

“Reliable and well-functioning road and bridge infrastructure is the cornerstone of a solid economy.  In addition to the safety of our citizens, it’s imperative that we are able to guarantee reliable and efficient transportation for the Gulf Coast’s residents, businesses and visitors,” said Ashley Edwards, president of the Gulf Coast Business Council.  “The future development of the region as a great place to live, visit and conduct business is tied to the quality of the region’s transportation system.  We must work together to provide for long-term solutions to address Mississippi’s aging and insufficient infrastructure.” 

Traffic congestion in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula area is worsening, causing 19 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $411 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.

Twelve percent of Mississippi’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula urban area, five percent of bridges are structurally deficient.

Traffic crashes in Mississippi claimed the lives of 3,109 people between 2011 and 2015, an average of 622 fatalities per year. Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.70 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13 and the third highest rate in the nation. The state’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than four times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state. In the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula urban area, on average, 47 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2013 to 2015. 

The efficiency and condition of Mississippi’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $277 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Mississippi, mostly by truck. Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Mississippi are carried by trucks and another eight percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“The condition of Mississippi’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, Mississippi will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”