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Alabama: Top 50 Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life

Posted by Content Coordinator on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016


Executive Summary

Alabama’s highway system has played a significant role in the state’s development, providing mobility and access for residents, visitors, businesses and industry. The state’s roads, highways and bridges remain the backbone of the Yellowhammer State’s economy. Alabama’s transportation system also provides for a high quality of life and makes the state a desirable place to live, visit and do business. Eight years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Alabama’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Alabama, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Yellowhammer State.

To achieve sustainable economic growth, Alabama must proceed with numerous projects to improve key roads, bridges and highways. Enhancing critical segments of Alabama’s transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will boost economic competitiveness and improve quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth.

Many segments of Alabama’s transportation system have significant deterioration, lack some desirable safety features, and do not have adequate capacity to provide the reliable mobility needed to support economic development, creating challenges for Alabama’s residents, visitors, businesses and state and local governments. This report looks at the condition and use of Alabama’s roads, highways and bridges and provides information on the state’s 50 most needed highway improvements to support economic growth and quality of life.

With a wide based economy including agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, natural resource extraction, finance, healthcare, technology, and tourism, the quality of Alabama’s transportation system will play a vital role in the state’s level of economic growth and quality of life.

The federal government is a significant source of transportation funding for Alabama. In December 2015, Congress passed and the president signed into law a long-term federal surface transportation program that includes modest funding increases and allows state and local governments to plan and finance projects with greater certainty through 2020. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) provides approximately $305 billion for surface transportation with highway and transit funding slated to increase by approximately 15 and 18 percent, respectively, over the five-year duration of the program. While the modest funding increase and certainty provided by the FAST Act are a step in the right direction, the funding falls far short of the level of needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue for the federal Highway Trust Fund.

As Alabama works to build and support a thriving and diverse economy, it will need to modernize its highway system by improving the physical condition of its roads, highways and bridges and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility to the state’s residents, visitors and businesses. Making needed improvements to Alabama’s roads, highways and bridges will provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by stimulating short and long-term economic growth.

In this report, TRIP examines recent transportation and economic trends in Alabama and provides information on highway projects in the state that are most needed to support economic growth. Sources of data include the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

TRIP has identified the 50 highway projects that are most needed to support Alabama’s economic growth. These projects are located throughout the state.

The most needed highway improvements in Alabama include projects to build, expand or modernize roads, highways and bridges throughout the state. These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Alabama an attractive place to live, visit and do business.

• TRIP evaluated each project based on the following criteria: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.

• The needed highway projects identified in the TRIP report would require an investment of $4.6 billion to complete.

• The needed improvements identified in this report include 10 widening projects on 63 miles of Alabama’s Interstate highway system. Based on forecast traffic growth, approximately 630 miles of Alabama’s Interstate Highway System are currently or will become congested and will need additional capacity to accommodate economic growth in the state.

Transportation projects that improve the efficiency, condition or safety of a highway provide significant economic benefits by reducing transportation delays and costs associated with a deficient transportation system.

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or bridge capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure also provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carry abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Download full version (PDF): The Top 50 Highway Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life in Alabama

About TRIP
Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

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