Colorado Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Executive Summary

Nine years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Colorado’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Colorado, which is greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, has a significant impact on quality of life in the Centennial State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

With an economy based largely on manufacturing, agriculture, natural resource extraction and tourism, the quality of Colorado’s transportation system plays a vital role in the state’s economic growth and quality of life.

In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation numbers in Colorado as the state addresses modernizing and maintaining its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit.

Cost to Colorado Motorists of Deficient Roads

An inadequate transportation system costs Colorado motorists a total of $6.8 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • Driving on rough roads costs Colorado motorists a total of $2.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • Traffic crashes in which roadway design was likely a contributing factor costs Colorado motorists a total of $1.6 billion each year in the form of lost household and workplace productivity, insurance and other financial costs.
  • Traffic congestion costs Colorado motorists a total of $2.9 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
  • The chart below details the average cost per driver in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

TRIP - COST TO COLORADO MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Population, Travel and Economic Trends in Colorado

The rate of population and economic growth in Colorado has resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Colorado’s population reached approximately 5.5 million residents in 2015, a 27 increase since 2000 and the sixth largest increase in the nation during that time. Colorado had approximately 4 million licensed drivers in 2015.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Colorado increased by 22 percent from 2000 to 2015 –from 41.8 billion VMT in 2000 to 51.1 billion VMT in 2015 – the tenth largest increase in the nation during that time.
  • From 2000 to 2015, Colorado’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 32 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 27 percent during this time.
  • During the first nine months of 2016, VMT in Colorado was up 3.2 percent from the first nine months of 2015, ahead of the national rate of VMT growth of three percent during that time.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Colorado is projected to increase by another 20 percent.

Colorado Road Conditions

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in 41 percent of major urban roads and highways in Colorado having pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorists in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • The pavement data in this report, which is for all arterial and collector roads and highways, is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), based on data submitted annually by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways.
  • Pavement data for Interstate highways and other principal arterials is collected for all system mileage, whereas pavement data for minor arterial and all collector roads and highways is based on sampling portions of roadways as prescribed by FHWA to insure that the data collected is adequate to provide an accurate assessment of pavement conditions on these roads and highways.
  • Forty-one percent of Colorado’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, 43 percent are rated in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 15 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twelve percent of Colorado’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, 48 percent are rated in mediocre or fair condition, and the remaining 40 percent are rated in good condition.
  • The chart below details the share of pavement in poor, mediocre, fair and good condition in the state’s largest urban areas.
  • Roads rated in mediocre to poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, these roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Colorado motorists a total of $2.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

TRIP - COLORADO ROAD CONDITIONS

Download full version (PDF): Colorado Transportation by the Numbers

About TRIP
www.tripnet.org
Founded in 1971, TRIP is a private nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues.  TRIP promotes transportation policies that help relieve traffic congestion and its impact on air quality, improve road and bridge conditions, make surface travel safer, and enhance economic productivity. 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 an efficient and safe surface transportation network that promotes economic development and quality of life.

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