NASHVILLE MOTORISTS LOSE NEARLY $1,700 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES - $6 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 Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville urban areas. Info-graphics for each area can be downloaded here.
Nashville, TN – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Tennessee motorists a total of $6 billion statewide annually - $1,667 per driver in the Nashville 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 Tennessee, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Tennessee Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Tennessee, nearly a quarter of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and five percent of Tennessee’s locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient. The state’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested with travel up nine percent between 2013 and 2016, with drivers wasting significant amounts of time and fuel each year. And traffic fatalities in Tennessee increased by eight percent from 2015 to 2016.
Driving on Nashville area roads costs the average driver $1,667 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 Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that 18 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Nashville urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $192 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“TDOT’s first priority is the safety of Tennessee’s motoring public,” said Bill Moore, chairman of Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance and former TDOT chief engineer. “We must have additional transportation funding, as proposed in Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act currently before the Tennessee General Assembly, not only to maintain and expand our system, but to significantly decrease congestion levels in our urban cities, which continue to rise each year”
Traffic congestion in the Nashville area is worsening, causing 45 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $1,168 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
Five percent of Tennessee’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Nashville urban area, four percent of bridges are structurally deficient.
Traffic crashes in Tennessee claimed the lives of 4,965 people between 2012 and 2016, an average of 993 fatalities per year. The number of fatalities increased eight percent from 2015 to 2016, from 958 to 1,036. Tennessee’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13. In the Nashville urban area, on average, 70 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of the last three years.
The efficiency and condition of Tennessee’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $619 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Tennessee, mostly by truck. Seventy-six percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Tennessee are carried by trucks and another 14 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“The condition of Tennessee’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, Tennessee will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”