DENVER MOTORISTS LOSE NEARLY $2,200 PER YEAR ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES - $6.8 BILLION STATEWIDE. COSTS WILL RISE AND CONDITIONS WILL WORSEN WITHOUT INCREASED FUNDING
Denver, CO – Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Colorado motorists a total of $6.8 billion statewide annually - $2,162 per driver in the Denver urban area - 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 Colorado, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Colorado Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Colorado, 41 percent of major, locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor condition and six percent of Colorado’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 2,400 people were killed in crashes on Colorado’s roads from 2011 to 2015.
Driving on Denver area roads costs the average driver $2,162 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 roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report calculates the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in the Colorado Springs, Denver, Northern Colorado, Grand Junction and Pueblo urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
“Our transportation infrastructure is falling further and further behind,” said Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “If we want to continue to grow our economy, ensure our quality of life, and create jobs, we must build and invest in a system that provides mobility choices for everyone- from increased lanes to technology solutions to bicycle and pedestrian options. Transportation is our top priority and we urge lawmakers to join us in finding a long-term, sustainable funding source for our infrastructure needs.”
The TRIP report finds that 80 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Denver urban area are in poor or mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $753 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“Colorado has experienced unprecedented growth in the last 20 years, but the state lacks a reliable and sustainable long term funding source to meet our resulting transportation infrastructure needs,” said Bob Golden, president and CEO of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. “This report makes a direct connection between that lack of investment and the impact to our pocketbooks. Now, more than ever, we need our policymakers to identify a solution to address this challenge. The cost to our businesses and our citizens of doing nothing is far too extreme.”
Traffic congestion in the Denver area is worsening, causing 49 annual hours of delay for the average motorist and costing each driver $1,101 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.
“Business leaders around our state see Colorado trailing states such as Utah and Texas, two of our biggest competitors, on key commerce and tourism opportunities due to outdated, unmaintained and congested roadways,” said Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado Business Roundtable. “We can no longer kick this can down the road and this report makes that connection in a very real way.”
Six percent of Colorado’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. In the Denver urban area, five percent of bridges are structurally deficient.
Traffic crashes in Colorado claimed the lives of 2,434 people between 2011 and 2015. Colorado’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.08 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is lower than the national average of 1.13. In the Denver urban area, on average, 110 people were killed in traffic crashes in each of the last three years.
“Investing in our transportation infrastructure is absolutely critical to creating jobs and fostering a healthy economy,” said Loren Furman, senior vice president of state and federal affairs for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. “Transportation is, without a doubt, the number one priority for our members.”
The efficiency and condition of Colorado’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $323 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Colorado, mostly by truck. Seventy-five percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Colorado are carried by trucks and another 21 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the state and local levels of government,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Colorado’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.”
Eds.: The report includes regional pavement conditions, congestion levels, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Colorado Springs, Denver, Northern Colorado, Grand Junction and Pueblo urban areas. Info-graphics for each area can be downloaded here.