ATM Members, Others Release National Report on U.S. Rural Roads

Less than two weeks before the current law authorizing funding for America’s transportation infrastructure expires, ATM members and other national organizations have released a report that evaluates the current deteriorating conditions, safety and use of America’s rural roads and bridges.

The “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland” report, released by national nonprofit transportation research group TRIP, AAA, American Farm Bureau Federation, the U.S. Travel Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, evaluates the safety and condition of roads and bridges serving America’s rural communities.

It finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity.

The report contains data and infographics for all 50 states for the percentage of rural roads in poor condition, the percent of deficient rural bridges, rural traffic fatality rates and the number of rural traffic fatalities.

The full report, press release and other supporting materials can be found at tripnet.org. Among the report findings, in 2013, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition and another 39 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition.

In 2014, 11 percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient and 10 percent were functionally obsolete. The federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding for rural roads. However, the current federal surface transportation program is set to expire on May 31, 2015.

“The 61 million people who live in America’s rural heartland deserve a transportation system that is safe, efficient and reliable,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs. “It is up to Congress to pass a fully funded, long-term bill to improve our nation’s rural roads before the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money this summer.”

America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food and fiber and home to an aging and increasingly diverse population that is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system. Yet according to Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP, with long-term federal transportation legislation stuck in political gridlock in Washington, economic growth in America’s rural communities could be threatened.

“Funding the modernization of our rural transportation system will create jobs and help ensure long-term economic development and quality of life in rural America,” said Wilkins.

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