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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Contact: Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Wednesday, February 20, 2019                                                 Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
Report available at:
tripnet.org                                                 TRIP office 202.466.6706

ALBUQUERQUE AREA DRIVERS LOSE NEARLY $2,100 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES - $2.7 BILLION STATEWIDE. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER ROAD AND BRIDGE DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION & HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS
Eds.: The TRIP Report includes regional pavement conditions, bridge conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces urban areas and statewide.  Info-graphics for each area and statewide can be downloaded here.

Albuquerque, New Mexico – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost each Albuquerque area driver $2,058 per year – a total of $2.7 billion statewide - due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Adequate investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels is needed to relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in New Mexico, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.

The TRIP report, “New Mexico Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that in the Albuquerque area, more than half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Statewide, six percent of locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. The report also finds that the Albuquerque area’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. The report also includes a list of approximately $3 billion in needed but unfunded transportation projects across the state.

Driving on deficient Albuquerque area roads costs the average driver $2,058 annually in 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 chart below details costs to drivers of driving on deficient roads statewide and in New Mexico’s three largest urban areas.

The TRIP report finds that 26 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Albuquerque area are in poor condition and another 27 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $698 each year in extra vehicle operating costs. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Driving on rough roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $1.2 billion each year.

"Our state is at a critical point to increase funding for road and highway improvements to keep people and products moving safely in New Mexico,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricia Lundstrom, chairman of the House Appropriations & Finance Committee. “I believe that strategic transportation investments are one of the best approaches to stimulate our economy and provide a competitive advantage for our state.”

Traffic congestion in the Albuquerque area is worsening, causing 42 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $1,069 each year in lost time and wasted fuel. New Mexico drivers lose a total of $784 million annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.

“New Mexico needs a safe and reliable roads system throughout our state,” said New Mexico State Senator Clemente Sanchez, chairman of the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. “Our rural ranchers, farmers, and small businesses depend on well-maintained roadways for their livelihoods. So many of our children ride school buses every day and deserve safe roads.”

Statewide, six percent of bridges – a total of 251 bridges - are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components. Nearly half – 48 percent – of New Mexico’s bridges are at least 50 years old.

"New Mexico is in the enviable position of having huge budget surpluses for FY 19 and FY 20. The extra revenues will exceed $1 billion dollars for each of these years,” said New Mexico State Representative Cathrynn Brown. “The increases are due primarily to the hard work and productivity of the New Mexico oil and gas industry. As a point of reference, the state’s overall budget for FY 20 will be just north of $7 billion dollars. The New Mexico Legislature and the Governor would be wise to invest a substantial portion of the budget surplus in public infrastructure, especially roads, highways, and bridges. In terms of infrastructure, we have a lot of catching up to do."

In the Albuquerque area, on average, 75 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2013 to 2017. The financial impact of traffic crashes cost each Albuquerque area driver an average of $291 annually – a total of $726 million statewide. New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.16.

“Many of our constituents are concerned about our roads and aging infrastructure, which is why we are making this a priority,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricio Ruiloba, chairman of the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee. “Improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure so that New Mexicans have safe roads, and ensuring that our businesses can have an efficient and less costly way of transporting goods and services is critical. In our rural state, road infrastructure is essential to our economic growth. We recognize the need to improve and expand our transportation infrastructure so all New Mexicans can benefit. As we continue to find new ways to improve roads, this funding supports our state’s economic development and provides safe travel for our families, students and business communities. Good roads reduce vehicle maintenance costs and fuel consumption, and make travel safer for our motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and students.”

The efficiency and condition of New Mexico’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $124 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New Mexico, mostly by trucks, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Nearly 350,000 full-time jobs in New Mexico in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

“Driving on deficient roads comes with a $2,058 yearly price tag for Albuquerque area motorists - $2.7 billion statewide,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Adequate funding for the state’s transportation system would allow for smoother roads, more efficient mobility, enhanced safety, and economic growth opportunities while saving New Mexico’s drivers time and money.”