By Bill Ross
Citizens and public infrastructure across South Carolina have suffered unprecedented damages from the historic storm two weeks ago. Neglected maintenance and erosion have combined to create a real crisis.
Before the historic floods our infrastructure system was already in a state of disrepair. According to the most recent Multimodal Transportation Plan – the SCDOT estimated that it needed $70.5 billion through 2040 to maintain and improve the state’s transportation system – however, it will have only $27.6 billion in revenues to meet that need. That is nearly a $43 billion shortfall in funds needed for highway, bridge and transit systems.
To make matters worse, Congress has the power to fund these shortfalls but is sitting on their hands, watching the situation grow worse.
A new analysis from two national reports sheds light on a comprehensive picture of the impact of deteriorating urban pavement has on S.C. drivers – the Trip “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother” report – released in July by Trip, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AAA, and the INRIX / Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard.
Both reports found that drivers in our state’s major urban areas are significantly impacted – in vehicle operating costs and congestion delays – by South Carolina’s deteriorating urban roads. Additionally, the INRIX / TTI report found that urban areas of all sizes are experiencing challenges similar to those seen in the early 2000s – increases in population and jobs and therefore increases in congestion.
Roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost South Carolina motorists a total of $3 billion statewide annually due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. This enormous figure breaks down to between $1,100 and more than $1,400 per driver in our state’s major urban areas every single year.
While the dramatic increase in South Carolina’s population in recent years – an astounding 39 percent since 1990 – has been good for our economy, the lack of investment in our state’s transportation needs is having the opposite effect.
The U.S. Senate has passed a six-year transportation bill to fund the nation’s highways, bridges and public transit systems, which the U.S. House of Reps has not acted on a long-term solution.
Our U.S. House members have an opportunity to make a real difference for the people of South Carolina by simply passing a long-term bill.
Bill Ross is the Executive Director of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads