OCIA Blog – News for the Ohio Transportation Industry

Record Year For Road Construction Spending Ahead, But ODOT Director Worries About Future Funding

Posted on Jan 19, 2018
in In the Media | 0 comments

road_work_ahead_signThe following article was published by The Statehouse News Bureau on December 29, 2017. The report puts all the orange barrels and construction sites that we see on Ohio highways in perspective.

2018 is expected to be a record year for road construction, with the Ohio Department of Transportation planning to spend $2.4 billion maintaining and building roads and bridges. But the agency’s director is worried about funding for ODOT down the road.

Big projects are planned on freeways in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, and work continues on the largest project ever in southern Ohio, the Portsmouth bypass.

But 90% of ODOT’s spending goes to rehabbing and maintaining existing roads and bridges, not to add capacity. And ODOT director Jerry Wray said that will become a problem with construction costs going up and gas tax revenue declining. “There are projects that we will not have the money to build. And they will have to be delayed – and that’s what we do. You don’t not build them. You just delay them until you have the money,” Wray said.

With more fuel efficient and electric vehicles on roads, Wray thinks the state will turn eventually to a system to charge drivers by the mile instead of by the gallon.

Copyright 2017 The Statehouse News Bureau

Supporting Gas Tax doesn’t hurt legislators’ bid for reelection

Posted on Nov 30, 2017
in Research & Data | 0 comments

tiacA final observation from the November 2017 general elections may bode well for highway funding in the future. New Jersey voters showed their support for transportation funding by reelecting lawmakers who backed the state’s 2016 gas tax increase. ARTBA-TIAC tracked the New Jersey state legislative elections as lawmakers faced voters for the first time since approving the state’s gas tax increase in October 2016.

In this year’s November election, 100% of 61 New Jersey legislators who voted for the gas tax increase in 2016 – and ran for reelection – won their seats. The results compare to 97% of 36 lawmakers who won reelection after voting against the gas tax increase.

The findings corroborate an earlier ARTBA-TIAC report that found voting for a state gas tax increase does not hurt reelection chances. The 2016 report tracked more than 2,500 state legislators from 16 states who voted to increase gas taxes for transportation funding. The analysis found that 91% of the lawmakers were returned to office in the next general election. This included 89% of Democratic legislators and 95% Republican. The reelection rates are similar among lawmakers who voted against raising gas taxes.

You can read the complete 2016 election analysis in the ARTBA-TIAC Report document.

Sources:

The American Journal of Transportation

American Road and Transportation Builders Association

Transportation Investment Advocacy Center

Ohio voters support Transportation Investment!

Posted on Nov 20, 2017
in Research & Data | 0 comments

2017 Transportation Investment Ballot Measure Results

2017 Transportation Investment Ballot Measure Results

Voters in 20 states demonstrated overwhelming approval for transportation investment in the November 7th elections. An analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC) indicates that voters approved 176 of 215 transportation investment ballot measures, primarily at the local level. That’s a whopping 82% passage rate! The approved measures will support $2.9 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.3 billion in continued funding through tax extension or renewals.

More than 100 ballot initiatives passed in Ohio

More than two-thirds of the ballot initiatives tracked by ARTBA-TIAC occurred in Ohio and Michigan. Most were property tax measures to renew local funding for roads, streets, and bridges. Of the 128 initiatives that appeared on Ohio’s election ballot, 105 or 82% passed for a total value of $24.04 million. Nearly all of the approved measures were for property tax increases.

Table 1: Ohio Ballot Measures, 2017 General Election

Type of Measure

 Measures Introduced

Measures Approved

Gasoline Tax

0

Sales/Income Tax

7

4

Bond

0

Property Tax

121

101

Other

0

Total

128

105

Source: Transportation Investment Advocacy Center

The decisions made in the 2017 general election are important for Ohio. When it comes to road and bridge funding, local communities depend heavily on federal and state motor fuel tax revenues. Generating adequate additional transportation funding at the local level is often a challenge. Voter support for increases in property tax and, in some communities, local income tax clearly shows that Ohioans care deeply about the quality, safety and condition of their roads and bridges. Way to go, Ohio!

You can check out individual State Summaries or read the full 2017 Analysis at the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center website.

TCC Calls for Permanent Highway Trust Fund Fix in Tax Reform

Posted on Oct 18, 2017
in In the Media | 0 comments

ARTBA Washington NewslineThe Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) has urged members of the House Highways & Transit Subcommittee to permanently stabilize and grow the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue stream as part of any package to reform the U.S. tax code.

Testifying on behalf of the TCC on October 11, Granite Construction President and CEO Jim Roberts told subcommittee members that, while the gas tax is the simplest and most efficient revenue solution to grow federal surface transportation investment, all options should be on the table.

“Stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund in tax reform would provide a foundation and platform for a broad-based, transformative infrastructure package,” Roberts said.

The subcommittee hearing was focused on the role of highways and transit in building a 21st Century infrastructure network.

Read the full article at ARTBA’s Washington Newsline along with the complete text of Mr. Roberts’ testimony.

TRIP Rural Roads Report highlights safety challenges

Posted on Aug 28, 2017
in Research & Data | 0 comments

Rural_Roads_TRIP_Infographics_June_2017_300A new report published this summer by TRIP, a national transportation research group, highlights the challenges and opportunities facing America’s rural transportation system. The comprehensive study, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, delves into the use, condition, and safety of our rural roads and bridges. Improving safety is a key concern, and the report identifies the type improvements needed.

Nationally, traffic fatalities are 2.5 times higher on rural roads

The TRIP study indicates that traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities take place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Nationally, rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is approximately two-and-a-half times higher than all other roads. In 2015, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.18 deaths for every 100 million Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT), compared to 0.83 deaths per 100 million Vehicle Miles of Travel on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all Vehicle Miles Traveled in the U.S. in 2015. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 43 percent, or 15,132 of the nation’s 35,092 traffic deaths in 2015.
  • After decreasing between 2012 and 2014, the number of fatalities and the fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate roads increased in 2015. From 2014 to 2015 the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. on non-Interstate rural roads increased from 14,781 to 15,132 and the traffic fatality rate per 100 million VMT increased from 2.14 to 2.18.
  • The National Safety Council reports that overall U.S. traffic fatalities in 2016 increased 6.5% from 2015.

 

Rural fatalities in Ohio mirror national statistics

The traffic fatality rate on Ohio’s rural, non-Interstate roads is also approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2015, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 1.84 deaths for every 100 million Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.73 deaths per 100 million VMT.

Much like the nation overall, Ohio’s rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all Vehicle Miles Traveled in the state in 2015. However, despite this relatively low percentage of VMT, crashes on Ohio’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 467 fatalities, representing 42% of the 1,110 total traffic fatalities in the state.

Some good news: Ohio rural traffic fatalities trending downward

On a positive note, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that annual traffic fatalities on Ohio’s rural roads have consistently trended downward since 2010. The NHTSA numbers are not exactly “apples to apples” with the TRIP study, most likely because of a slightly different definition of rural areas and/or the inclusion of rural Interstates. But that does not change the positive trend:

Annual Rural Traffic Fatalities in Ohio (NHTSA)

2010 – 713

2011 – 661

2012 – 640

2013 – 513

2014 – 496

2015 – 492 (TRIP = 467)

Ohio’s rural roads and bridges better than national averages

The condition of Ohio’s rural roads and bridges also fares well compared with much of the nation. Overall pavement condition is rated “Good” for 65% of Ohio’s rural roads and “Poor” for only 6%. In comparison, the U.S. averages for rural roads are 48% “Good” and 15% “Poor”.

Similarly, only 7% of Ohio’s rural bridges are rated as “Structurally Deficient” compared to 10% of U.S. rural bridges overall.

Ohio rural roads still face safety challenges

Despite some positive trends and statistics, Ohio’s rural communities still face challenges for improving traffic safety and keeping road and bridges in good condition.

  • Traffic fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles of Travel remain approximately 2.5 times higher on rural roads than on all other roads.
  • While a variety of safety improvements will help reduce fatal traffic incidents in rural communities, adequate funding is an annual challenge. Federal highway funding cannot be used on many rural roads, most of which are the responsibility of local governments, which may have limited resources.
  • Rural population growth, and the corresponding increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled, can strain road capacity and increase traffic congestion over time. Selective expansion and upgrades will always be needed.

Continued safety improvements on Ohio’s rural roadways will reduce fatalities and help keep the trend moving in the right direction. Saving lives – the single biggest reason for finding a sustainable method of infrastructure funding in the United States!

TCC and Congress push for Highway Trust Fund solution

Posted on Jun 26, 2017
in Infrastructure Insight | 0 comments

Politico_Ad_20172Finding a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund is essential to the long term health of America’s transportation infrastructure. And over the past several weeks, the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and the U.S. Congress have worked together to keep infrastructure funding top-of-mind.

TCC Annual Washington Fly-in

Hundreds of transportation design, construction and labor union executives converged in the nation’s capital in May for the annual TCC Washington Fly-in. Participants had the opportunity to hear Congressional leaders discuss both the Highway Trust Fund and infrastructure investment policy at a conference on May 17th. The next day, the attendees convened on Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives about finding a permanent solution for the Highway Trust Fund’s revenue shortfall.

To support the theme of this year’s Fly-in, the TCC has also scheduled a print ad in Capitol Hill publications calling on Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund as part of tax reform.

The momentum continued in June as 253 bipartisan members of the House of Representative joined together to advocate for a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund’s structural revenue deficit.

Graves – Norton Highway Trust Fund Letter

Led by House Highways & Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.), 119 Republicans and 134 Democrats signed a June 12 letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) calling for a trust fund fix as part of legislation to reform the U.S. tax code.

Since 2008, over $140 billion in general fund transfers and budget gimmicks have been needed to preserve federal surface transportation investments. But the trust fund’s permanent revenue shortfall continues to grow.

The Graves-Norton letter makes clear that that members of both parties are seeking a break from the budget gimmicks and general fund transfers of the past. The letter notes that, “Over the past 30 years, all Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue enhancements have been included in larger tax and deficit reduction packages. Any HTF solution should entail a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream that can support the transportation infrastructure investment supported by President Trump and members of Congress.”

The Washington Fly-in and the Graves-Norton letter demonstrate a strong effort and consensus between TCC members and our representatives in Congress. Hopefully we are on the right track for a sustainable infrastructure funding program.

ODOT Memorial Day Travel Advisory

Posted on May 25, 2017
in Public Messages | 0 comments

ODOT-The-Zephyr

Pay extra attention when driving through work zones and always BUCKLE UP!

That’s the message from the Ohio Department of Transportation and they are right on target! Memorial Day is nearly upon us, marking the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. That means higher traffic volume throughout Ohio and the busiest time of year for highway construction. ODOT’s Memorial Day Travel Advisory 2017 notes that Ohio typically sees a 14% increase in traffic during the Memorial Day weekend, making it the fourth highest traveled holiday of the year. This year AAA predicts that 1.4 million Ohioans will drive more than 50 miles from home during the holiday!

Because of the higher traffic volume, ODOT works to reduce the size of work zones as much as possible during the holiday weekend. Motorists are encouraged to drive with extra care and plan ahead by checking OHGO.com for work zone locations and live traffic conditions.

“We really need drivers to pay extra attention when passing through work zones. Even though we do what we can to make them as safe as possible, work zones can be dangerous places,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray. “Last year, there were 6,041 work zone crashes resulting in 28 deaths. Drivers need to slow down and be alert, especially in work zones.”

ODOT’s Memorial Day Travel Advisory provides a detailed list of Ohio highway projects that could impact travel.

Additionally, more than 130 digital highway message boards will display “CLICK IT OR TICKET” and “BUCKLE UP BUCKEYES” over the Memorial Day holiday. Last year, of the 15 traffic deaths over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, 4 were not wearing a seat belt.

Buckle up, travel safely and enjoy the holiday!

 

 

ASCE Report Card rates nation’s roads as “Poor, At Risk”

Posted on May 4, 2017
in Infrastructure | 0 comments

ASCE 2017 Report CardThe 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), gives America’s roads a disappointing letter grade of “D”. The engineers at ASCE define “D” as infrastructure that is “Poor, At Risk”:

“The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure.”

The statistics are astounding. When you include everything from multi-lane interstates to residential streets, more than 4 million miles of roads stretch across the United States. They form the backbone of America’s transportation system. Private motorists depend on our roadways for convenient access to work, school, shopping and travel. Companies in every industry rely on the highway system for reliable and timely delivery of everything from bulk commodities and machinery to thousands of items that line retail shelves.

In 2016 alone, U.S. roads carried people and goods more than 3 trillion miles. Additionally, Americans are driving more these days increasing total Vehicle Miles Traveled to record levels, second only to 2007.

But with more traffic on the roads, highway congestion throughout America is getting worse. Our highway capacity is far less than needed:

  • More than two out of every five miles of U.S. urban interstates are congested
  • All but five of the country’s largest metro areas experienced an increase in traffic congestion from 2013 to 2014
  • In 2014, Americans spent 6.9 billion hours delayed in traffic – 42 hours per driver
  • Time wasted in traffic delays consumed 3.1 billion gallons of fuel
  • The lost time and wasted fuel added up to $160 billion in 2014

A significant number of highways throughout the nation are also in poor condition:

  • 20% of the nation’s highways had poor pavement conditions in 2014
  • Urban roads are in much worse shape than rural due to consistently higher traffic volume
  • 32% of urban roads are in poor condition compared to 14% of rural roads
  • In 2014, driving on poor roads cost U.S. motorists $112 billion in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs

While the nation’s roads earned a “D” grade overall, ASCE’s Ohio Infrastructure Overview notes that Ohio faces infrastructure challenges of its own:

  • Ohio has 122,926 miles of public roads with 17% in poor condition
  • Driving on roads in need of repair costs each driver $475 per year

Ohioans can expect more state-specific data in the future. The Ohio ASCE Council of Local Sections will soon be updating the Ohio Infrastructure Report Card with release planned for late 2018. The most recent Ohio Report Card, which was originally published by ASCE in 2009, gave Ohio roads a grade of “D”. We look forward to seeing what our letter grades will be this time around!

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card a Call to Action

Posted on Apr 13, 2017
in Infrastructure, Research & Data | 0 comments

SurfaceTransportation_Web-2 (1)In early March, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. Television news programs, newspapers and trade magazines covered the announcement for a few days and provided plenty of highlights. Within a week or so, the coverage tapered off and, as so often happens, the story receded in the public consciousness. It should not. ASCE has given us a call to action.

The ASCE  Infrastructure Report Card is updated every four years and assigns simple A to F letter grades that provide a revealing look at the progress – or lack of progress – in sustaining America’s infrastructure. The Report Card is comprehensive, evaluating roads and bridges as well as transit, rail, dams, levees, inland ports, aviation and other major infrastructure categories. Additionally, ASCE provides an overview and comparison of the same infrastructure categories for individual states.

In the weeks ahead, OCIA will drill deeper into the 2017 Report Card, taking a closer look at ASCE’s assessment of roads and bridges throughout America and here in Ohio. ASCE’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure Infographic, is a good place to start. Based on data from the Report Card, the Infographic demonstrates how road conditions and a lack of adequate highway funding affect all of us as motorists and users of public transportation. It also offers specific solutions for improvement. Here are the highlights:

  • Letter grades for America’s surface transportation infrastructure are: Bridges C+, Roads D, and Transit D-
  • 56,000 of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient and 188 million trips are taken on them annually
  • 2 out of 5 miles of the nation’s Interstates are congested, resulting in 6.9 billion hours delayed in traffic or 42 hours per driver
  • 21% of the nation’s highways are in poor condition costing motorists $121 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs

The takeaway point: Investment in surface transportation is not keeping up with America’s needs. Despite estimated funding $941 billion, total needs exceed $2 trillion resulting in a $1.1 trillion investment gap.

ASCE proposes the following solutions to improve conditions and ultimately raise the grades:

  • Fix the Federal Highway Trust Fund by raising the federal motor fuels tax, and explore alternative, long-term funding mechanisms.
  • Increase investment at all levels of government to reduce the backlog of infrastructure rehabilitation needs.
  • Use asset management best practices to prioritize projects and improve the condition, security and safety of assets while minimizing costs over its entire life span.

The ASCE recommendations are comprehensive, pragmatic and bold. They have to be. The deterioration of America’s infrastructure didn’t happen overnight but progressed gradually over many years. Reversing the situation will require major initiatives operating in unison: increasing revenue, investing in infrastructure at federal, state and local levels, and managing the investment wisely. America needs a call to action. The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card provides one that is loud and clear.

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ODOT invests $2.3 billion in Ohio roads and bridges

Posted on Apr 7, 2017
in Construction, Infrastructure | 0 comments

2017 will be a near-record construction season for Ohio – for the second year in a row! The Ohio Department of Transportation will invest $2.3 billion in roads and bridges across the state, nearly surpassing the $2.4 billion investments made in 2014 and 2015.

The construction season will include 1,098 projects with 26 considered Major Projects valued at more than $10 million each. Throughout the year, construction workers will pave 6,945 miles of roadway and repair or replace 1,281 bridges.

In keeping with ODOT’s plan for “Taking Care of What We Have”, 93% of the year’s construction investment is dedicated to preserving the existing transportation system while 7% is allocated toward enhancing capacity.

ODOT is also focused squarely on safety with 191 projects planned to make Ohio roadways safer. Safety is always a priority and becomes even more important as traffic deaths trend upward in the state.

ODOT’s effort helps Ohio continue to strive for excellence in its transportation infrastructure. A safe, well-maintained and uncongested system of highways and bridges is something that every resident and visitor traveling through Ohio should be able to count on.

Read the full text of ODOT’s news release, ODOT kicks off another near-record year of construction”.