Tulsa in top 10 for cost of driving on bad roads, top 20 for percentage of bad roads

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Last week TRIP, a national transportation research organization, released its annual urban roads report, ranking U. S. cities by percentage of major roads and highways in poor condition and on the cost to drivers resulting from the bad roads. Tulsa and Oklahoma City ranked 17th and 16th respectively on the first measure -- in each city, 45% of the streets are in poor condition. Tulsa's cost per driver for bad roads was 4th in the nation at $928, slightly worse than OKC, in 5th at $917.

TRIP describes the basis for this additional cost measure: "Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation, and increasing needed maintenance, fuel consumption and tire wear." The numbers come from TRIP's analysis of 2013 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics.

Only 7% of Tulsa's major road and highway miles are considered to be in good condition, 8% in fair condition, 40% mediocre, and 45% poor. The classifications correspond to ranges of numeric ratings: The International Roughness Index (IRI) and the Present Serviceability Rating (PSR). Poor means an IRI above 170 or a PSR of 2.5 or less.

Compare Tulsa's numbers to the national breakdown:

An analysis of 2013 pavement data found that 28 percent of the nation's major urban roads - Interstates, freeways and other major routes - had pavements that were in substandard (poor) condition. These are roads and highways that provide an unacceptable ride and are in need of resurfacing or more significant repairs. TRIP's analysis of federal highway data from 2013 also found that 41 percent of these major urban routes provided an acceptable ride quality and were in either mediocre or fair condition. The remaining 31 percent of major urban highways and roads were found to provide good ride quality.

Here are links to TRIP's full urban roads report and appendices.

In that report, TRIP has recommendations for improving the longevity of roads, beginning with foundations, better construction materials, and early preventive maintenance (crack sealing, overlays). It's the sort of thing Tulsa's former streets commissioner Jim Hewgley has been saying for years.

It would be interesting to trace back to the locally collected data that informed the FHWA's numbers and ultimately TRIP's analysis. I suspect that much of the mileage covered by the numbers in the Tulsa metro area is the responsibility of ODOT, rather than municipal or county authorities. ODOT seems rather fond of new construction (e.g., the Oklahoma CIty I-40 relocation, the upcoming I-35/I-240 rebuild) and not so fond of maintenance.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 28, 2015 5:58 PM.

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