TRB 2016 Blue Ribbon Committee
16th National Transportation Planning Applications Conference

Rough Roads Ahead 2: Economic Implications of Deteriorating Highway Conditions

Corresponding Author: Becky Knudson, Oregon Department of Transportation

Presented By: Becky Knudson, Oregon Department of Transportation


The Oregon Department of Transportation published “Rough Roads Ahead: The Cost of Poor Highway Conditions to Oregon’s Economy” November of 2014. A new effort builds on this analysis and a report is planned for publication early 2017. This study, with the working title “Rough Roads Ahead 2: Economic Implications of Deteriorating Highway Conditions”, presents a high-level, strategic assessment of the long range implications of Oregon’s current forecast budget for highways. The current highway budget is insufficient to meet needs, so the agency is preparing for strategic dis-investment decisions. ODOT must conceive new ways to develop the most efficient use and management of facilities while accepting lower performance standards, shifted use of deteriorating facilities and move resources to priority locations.

The Oregon Statewide Integrated Model (SWIM) is used to evaluate three hypothetical scenarios over a 20 year period, which represents investment strategies implemented with budget increases and compared to the current 20-year forecast budget. Each scenario identifies additional highway use tax needed to support the increase in spending. The current budget forecast scenario includes impacts of inflation on the highway funding purchasing power, which is significant over a 20 year period. SWIM is used to evaluate the potential impact of highway disinvestment on Oregon’s economic competitiveness. The focus of this analysis will be on bridges, since over half of Oregon’s bridges are nearing the end of their life cycle. Weight restricted bridges significantly impact the cost of moving freight within Oregon, where over 70% of freight moves by truck. In addition, registered passenger vehicle records will be used to estimate the potential cost of deteriorating pavement condition to Oregon households using information from NCHRP Report 720 “Estimating the Effects of Pavement Condition on Vehicle Operating Costs.” The original Rough Roads study presented an example using a medium sedan. This analysis will consider the entire fleet of Oregon registered passenger vehicles, which is over three million vehicles.


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