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For Immediate Release                                                  Contact: Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
Friday, June 24, 2016                                                                              Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Report available at: tripnet.org                                                                               TRIP office 202.466.6706

DEFICIENT, CONGESTED ROADWAYS COST AVERAGE NEW JERSEY DRIVER $2,626 ANNUALLY, A TOTAL OF $13.1 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND TRANSPORTATION WOES WILL WORSEN WITHOUT INCREASED FUNDING  

Eds.: The report includes information on statewide pavement conditions, bridge conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, cost breakdowns and funding needs.

Trenton, NJ – Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost New Jersey motorists a total of $13.1 billion statewide annually – more than $2,600 per driver - 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 New Jersey, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.

The TRIP report, New Jersey Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that more than one-third of the state’s major roads are in poor condition and more than one-third of New Jersey’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, with drivers facing some of the longest commutes in the nation. And an average of 574 people were killed annually in crashes on New Jersey’s roads from 2010 to 2014.

Driving on deficient roads costs each New Jersey driver $2,626 per year – a total of $13.1 billion statewide- 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 along with a statewide total is below.

The TRIP report finds that 37 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in New Jersey are in poor condition and another 41 percent are in mediocre and fair condition. The remaining 22 percent are in good condition. Driving on deteriorated roads costs the average New Jersey motorist an additional $632 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide vehicle operating costs as a result of rough roads total $3.9 billion annually.

A total of 35 percent of New Jersey’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards.  Nine percent of New Jersey’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 26 percent of the state’s bridges are functionally obsolete, which means they no longer meet modern design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.

Traffic congestion in New Jersey is worsening, costing the average motorist $1,501 annually in lost time and wasted fuel – a total of $6.2 billion each year. The average daily commute for New Jersey residents is 31 minutes, the third longest nationally, behind only New York and Maryland.  The national average is 26 minutes.

“The TRIP report underscores how important renewing the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund program is to motorists in our state. In the long run, driving on well-maintained roads is far less expensive than paying for needless car repairs, congestion and crashes that result from an underfunded transportation system,” stated Philip Beachem, president of the New Jersey Alliance for Action.

New Jersey’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.74 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.08. The state’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than three times higher than the rate on all other roads in the state (2.10 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel versus 0.67). TRIP estimates that roadway features may be a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.

The Federal surface transportation program is an important source of funding in New Jersey. Signed into law in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, provides modest increases in federal highway and transit spending, allows states greater long-term funding certainty and streamlines the federal project approval process. But the FAST Act does not provide adequate funding to meet the nation’s need for highway and transit improvements and does not include a long-term and sustainable funding source.

The efficiency and condition of New Jersey’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $816 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New Jersey, mostly by truck. Seventy-three percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in New Jersey are carried by trucks and another 18 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without additional transportation funding New Jersey’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, the state will miss out on opportunities for economic growth and quality of life will suffer.”