Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Mississippi motorists a total of $2.9 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,046 per driver in some urban areas - 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 Mississippi, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Mississippi Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Mississippi, nearly two-thirds of major locally and state-maintained urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 12 percent of Mississippi’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 3,100 people were killed on the state’s roads from 2011 to 2015. Mississippi had the third highest traffic fatality rate in the nation in 2015.
Driving on Jackson area roads costs Mississippi drivers a total of $2.9 billion 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 Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Southaven-DeSoto County urban areas. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in each area along with a statewide total is below.
The TRIP report finds that 43 percent of Mississippi’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition and 21 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twelve percent of major urban roads are in fair condition and the remaining 24 percent are rated in good condition. Driving on deficient roads costs Mississippi motorists an additional $1.4 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
“Municipalities in Mississippi are responsible for more than 23,000 street miles,” said Jimmy Clyde, mayor of Magee and president of the Mississippi Municipal League. “As a mayor, I can confirm that one of most requested services from my citizens is better and safer streets. More than half of Mississippi citizens live in municipalities, and they expect and deserve safe, well-maintained streets. The cost of providing and maintaining streets and bridges continues to outpace current municipal revenue streams. Raising property taxes should not be the only recourse for generating new revenue. If cities and towns can improve their street infrastructure, the climate for economic development will continue to improve and more jobs can be created for all Mississippians.”
Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Mississippi, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion costs Mississippi drivers $530 annually in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
Twelve percent of Mississippi’s bridges are structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components.
Traffic crashes in Mississippi claimed the lives of 3,109 people between 2011 and 2015, an average of 622 fatalities per year. Mississippi’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.70 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is significantly higher than the national average of 1.13 and the third highest rate in the nation. The state’s rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than four times the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.
The efficiency and condition of Mississippi’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $277 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Mississippi, mostly by truck. Seventy-seven percent of the goods shipped annually to and from sites in Mississippi are carried by trucks and another eight percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
“The condition of Mississippi’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, Mississippi will need to make transportation funding a top priority.”
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