#91in91 Highlights Arizona’s Critical Transportation Maintenance and Construction Needs

January 16, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David M. Martin
Phone: (602) 252-3926

#91in91 Highlights Arizona’s Critical Transportation Maintenance and Construction Needs

State is suffering from growing maintenance gap since the fuel tax was last addressed in 1991

PHOENIX – As part of the endeavor to increase public awareness on the state’s massive unfunded maintenance needs, a new effort known as #91in91 has been launched.  The new campaign combines two key facts: 1) Arizona’s fuel tax is 18 cents per gallon – one of the lowest in the country and has not been increased since 1991; 2) there are 91 people (Governor and 90 legislators) who can do something about it.

“Over the past 40 years, Arizona has built of one the one of the most successful transportation systems in the country.  It has been one of the biggest drivers for our economic success and our massive population growth,” said David Martin, President, Arizona Chapter, Associated General Contractors, “The fact of the matter is we have built more new freeway miles than most if not all metro areas in the United States.  We are at a crossroads on deciding how the state can maintain what we have and how we continue to grow and improve our infrastructure. Doing nothing is not an option.”

The #91in91 effort throws it back to 1991 when the hair and cell phones were bigger, and Arizona’s population and road capacities were smaller.  It challenges Arizonans to think about how much has changed in the past 29 years. The pictures are being shared on social media and a throwback yearbook can be found at 91in91.com.     

A lot has changed in Arizona since 1991 but the funding to fix our roads has not.  Over the past 28 years, 48 other states have increased their fees – while Arizona has fallen behind.  Inflation has been the biggest driver in the loss of buying power. Revenues for maintenance in Arizona have fallen by over 70%.  

At the same time, vehicles have also become more fuel efficient.  Back in 1991, for example, electric and hybrid vehicles were virtually non-existent, and the best-selling sedan (Ford Taurus) had a fuel economy of 19 miles per gallon.  Today, the best-selling sedan (Toyota Camry) achieves over 41 miles per gallon.    

“There are a lot of folks who are still active in politics today that were around 30 years ago,” explained Tom Dorn, Executive Director of Arizona Highway Users, “This was a fun way to highlight the way some of our favorite people and things have changed – while the gas tax to fix our roads has stayed the same.  If it had been indexed to inflation, it would be 33 cents per gallon today. We are simply not keeping up.”

Lack of action since 1991 has led to 43% percent of Arizona’s major roads to be considered in poor or mediocre condition.  Traffic fatalities on Arizona’s rural roads is the 3rd highest in the nation and more than twice the fatality rate on all other roads in the state according to TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit.

“Our roads have been traditionally funded by a ‘use tax,’ paid for by those who use them.  Unfortunately, not only are we falling behind, but many are not paying their fair share. Because maintenance revenue is currently tied to only gasoline use, hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles are not paying for the roads they use.  Something must be done to ensure that everyone is helping to pay for wear and tear they are putting on our roads,” said Robert Medler, Vice President of the Tucson Metro Chamber.

Justan Rice, President, ACEC of Arizona concluded, “Adequate transportation is critical to our ability to move people, goods, and services throughout the state.  It is also a key component that allows public safety to get to us when we need them most. Our state has done an amazing job, but we can’t stand by and continue to build new roads with no money to maintain them.  Something must be done.”


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