Across New England, there were 1,865 bridges rated by the federal government in 2015 as structurally deficient. That’s roughly 10.5 percent of the bridges in our region. Over 5,100 bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. According to the most recent Federal Highway Administration data, from 1995 to 2014, there were an additional 1.24 million New England drivers on our roads, and vehicle-miles travelled (VMT) per year jumped from 112.4 billion to 130.75 billion VMT in that same 20 year period. Our stressed surface transportation infrastructure is witnessing traffic usage at levels far beyond those originally anticipated by their planners and designers.
According to the World Economic Forum’s latest global competitiveness index for 2015-2016, the U.S. ranks 11th in its quality of overall infrastructure and 14th in terms of its roadways. In terms of port infrastructure, the U.S. tied with the United Kingdom and Spain in 10th, and for railroad infrastructure came in 15th, between Luxembourg and China. McKinsey Global Institute said in a June 2016 report that while the world pumps in some $2.5 trillion for infrastructure spending, it simply isn’t enough. Indeed, McKinsey says that the nations of the world – and particularly those with emerging economies – will need to invest an average of $3.3 trillion per year on infrastructure through the year 2030 just to keep up with expected rates of growth. McKinsey noted that many G20 nations slowed their infrastructure investment since the financial crisis, including the United States.
In New England, transportation-related delays add up to significant economic costs. With business leaders continually citing the quality of transportation infrastructure—and the ability to move both goods and people—as key factors in their location decisions, without consistent quality upgrades New England’s commercial areas become less and less competitive every year.
New England’s current transportation system is highly road-dependent and requires long commutes for many residents. Further, limited availability of rail service restricts commuting options. Without investment in a transportation infrastructure to facilitate workforce mobility and business activities, the region will continue to face challenges competing economically with other parts of the country and the world.
Our Transportation & Infrastructure Committee—chaired by Steve Silveira of ML Strategies– has worked to provide a cohesive New England message on transportation funding and legislation before Congress. The NEC staff contact for the committee is Peter Phipps.
Learn more about recent Transportation & Infrastructure activities.