It’s Time for Bold Action to Build a Safer, More Secure Transportation Future
North Carolina faces a transportation crisis. Rough roads and crumbling bridges are endangering travelers and costing the average driver hundreds of dollars each year – in some areas, thousands. The risks of relying on 20th century solutions to fund our modern transportation network are adding up for our state and its people. The good news is that state leaders have a real opportunity to solve this crisis.
The NC Chamber and the job creators on our Destination 2030 Coalition have been busy laying out potential solutions and urging legislators at the General Assembly to enact a 21st century transportation funding strategy for North Carolina.
We have been encouraged by the willingness of legislative leaders to advance a dialogue around this critical issue even as they help navigate the acute pressures facing our state. We realize the adoption of a fully modernized funding model will likely require a multi-year game plan. However, we believe a bold, meaningful step toward transportation modernization is needed now, in 2021, to keep our state moving confidently forward at this transitional moment for North Carolina and the nation.
The NC Chamber’s advocacy team and our allies on the Destination 2030 Coalition are working hard to ensure North Carolina’s leaders enact decisive solutions to secure the future safety and reliability of our transportation network. You can learn more about the importance of modernizing our transportation funding strategies by following the hashtag #SafeTravelsNC on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Deficient Bridges Threaten Lives Across NC
Source: N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (June 2021)
The map above shows the percentage of bridges rated as structurally deficient within each North Carolina county. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, our state ranks as the 10th worst in the nation for the number of structurally deficient bridges, with more than 1,500 bridges falling into this category. An even larger number – more than 5,000 – require some level of repair.
Structurally deficient bridges are just one manifestation of our outdated approach to transportation funding, but they are a particularly worrisome one when it comes to the safety and well-being of travelers on our roadways. Inadequately maintained bridges threaten lives and increase the likelihood of dangerous and costly accidents. As you can see from the map, these risks are especially severe across western North Carolina.
All North Carolinians, from Murphy to Manteo, deserve access to a safe, well-maintained network of roads and bridges. To protect travelers on our roadways, state leaders have a responsibility to modernize our transportation funding strategy.
The Price of Transportation Inaction
North Carolinians are paying the price and facing the risks of our outdated transportation funding formula.
• Our state suffers from the 12th highest rate of structurally deficient rural bridges.
• From 2015 to 2019, vehicle crashes claimed more than 7,000 lives across North Carolina.
• The average vehicle owner in our state pays $500 each year in additional costs from driving on rough and deficient roadways – more than $10.3 billion statewide.
• Congested roads stifle travel and commerce, costing North Carolina drivers $3.3 billion annually, causing drivers to spend up to 48 hours per year idling in traffic, and choking untold amounts of economic activity.
Our inability to modernize transportation funding is putting North Carolina behind on critical transportation investments and undermining our relaunch from COVID-19.
• The motor fuels tax, first introduced a century ago as the state’s main producer of transportation revenue, is growing less viable with each passing year.
• Yet we depend on this outmoded mechanism for more than 60 percent of state-funded maintenance and operation needs across our network and nearly 40 percent of capital needs.
The solution? A modernized transportation funding model that can support our 21st century growth and ensure the safety of travelers across North Carolina.
• The national transportation landscape is changing fast. The states – and the leaders – who show the confidence and courage to pioneer bold solutions stand to gain a major competitive edge as we forge a new way forward.
• Bold solutions are on the table and in legislators’ hands – now it’s up to our elected leaders to act.