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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 Contact: Rocky Moretti 202.262.0714 (cell)
Wednesday, November 14, 2018                                                    Carolyn Bonifas Kelly 703.801.9212 (cell)
Report available at: tripnet.org                                                      TRIP office 202.466.6706

BUFFALO-NIAGARA FALLS AREA DRIVERS LOSE MORE THAN $1,700 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES - $24.8 BILLION STATEWIDE. LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER ROAD AND BRIDGE DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION & HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS
Eds.: The statewide report includes regional pavement conditions, bridge conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the state’s largest urban areas. TRIP has also prepared customized regional reports for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica areas. Info-graphics for each area and statewide can be downloaded here.

Buffalo, New York– Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost each Buffalo-Niagara Falls area driver $1,726 per year – a total of $24.8 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 York, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national nonprofit transportation research organization.

The TRIP report, “New York Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, two-fifths of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition and nine percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or longer) are in poor condition. The report also finds that the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. In addition to the statewide report, TRIP has produced customized regional reports for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Binghamton, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York-Newark-Jersey City, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica areas.

Driving on deficient Buffalo-Niagara Falls area roads costs the average driver $1,726 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 York’s eight largest urban areas.

The TRIP report finds that 15 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area are in poor condition and another 25 percent are rated in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $382 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 $7 billion each year.

“Economic development does not happen without well-designed, well-maintained and well-funded infrastructure,” said Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “The safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people is at the core of our economy. Buffalo Niagara Partnership members continue to identify the lack of resources to adequately address our infrastructure needs now – and in the future – as a major impediment to economic growth and investment in Buffalo Niagara.”

Traffic congestion in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area is worsening, causing 40 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing the average driver $932 each year in lost time and wasted fuel. New York drivers lose a total of $13 billion annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion.

“AAA sees firsthand the challenges that motorists face when traveling on roads in poor condition,” said Elizabeth Carey, AAA Western and Central New York’s director of public relations. “Last year, our crews responded to nearly 60,000 flat tire calls in Western and Central New York, which are costly and troublesome to drivers. By investing in infrastructure improvements, motorists will have a much safer experience on area roadways.”

In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, nine percent (100 of 1,160) bridges are in poor condition, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components and another 44 percent (506 of 1,160) are rated in fair condition, indicating some deterioration to major components of the bridge. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length. More than half – 52 percent – of New York’s bridges are at least 50 years old.

In the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, on average, 64 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2014 to 2016. The financial impact of traffic crashes costs each Buffalo-Niagara Falls area driver an average of $412 annually – a total of $4.8 billion statewide. New York’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.83 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.18. The fatality rate on New York’s non-interstate rural roads is approximately three and a half times higher than on all other roads in the state (2.11 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.60).

"As the Western New York region rebounds and grows in population, congestion is getting worse. The I-90/290 interchange is far behind other parts of the state’s transportation system in efficiency; a modernization is long overdue,” said Carley J. Hill, chairwoman of the FAIR Committee. “Parts of the Main Street and Transit Road corridors, as well as many of our city streets, lack simple turning lanes or synchronized signals. As a region in economic growth, we MUST keep up with the times. We demand that our legislative leadership focus on the condition of city and county assets. As a community, we should take responsibility for these degraded conditions and their effect on taxpayers and their vehicle operating costs."

The efficiency and condition of New York’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $1.3 trillion in goods are shipped to and from sites in New York, 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. Approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York 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 $1,726 yearly price tag for Buffalo-Niagara Falls motorists - $24.8 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 York’s drivers time and money.”