Tag Archive for 'American Recovery and Reinvestment Act'

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces 72 TIGER 2014 Recipients
Demand Demonstrates Need for Greater Transportation Investment through GROW AMERICA Act

header-DOT_700x90[1]U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the Department of Transportation would provide $600 million for 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia from its TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2014 program.

The Department received 797 eligible applications from 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, an increase from the 585 applications received in 2013.  Overall, applicants requested 15 times the $600 million available for the program, or $9 billion for needed transportation projects.

“As uncertainty about the future of long-term federal funding continues, this round of TIGER will be a shot in the arm for these innovative, job-creating and quality of life-enhancing projects,” said Secretary Foxx.  “We’re building bridges from Maine to Mississippi.  We’re creating ladders of opportunity for the middle-class and those seeking to enter the middle-class by investing in transit, road and rail projects from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York City, increasing access to jobs and quality of life.  For every project we select, however, we must turn dozens more away – projects that could be getting done if Congress passed the GROW AMERICA Act, which would double the funding available for TIGER and growing the number of projects we could support.”

Projects funded through this round of TIGER support several key transportation goals: 

Improving Access to Jobs and Creating New “Ladders of Opportunity:  Americans are increasingly challenged by longer travel times, which take away from time on the job and at home.  For those looking for work, unpredictable travel times can make finding work and keeping a job even harder.  This round of TIGER invests in projects designed to cut down on travel times, increase predictability and, in some cases, attract new middle-class jobs into communities.  Examples include:

  • A $24.9 million investment in the construction of a 7.6 mile bus rapid transit line in Richmond will connect transit-dependent residents to jobs and retail centers as well as spur mixed use and transit-oriented development in a city with the highest poverty rate in Virginia.
  • A $15 million TIGER grant will develop a new bus rapid transit spine for Omaha, Neb., dramatically reducing travel time to major employment hubs in the city.  Roughly 16 percent of the households within a quarter of a mile of the proposed bus-rapid transit route do not currently have access to a vehicle.
  • A $20 million TIGER grant will pay for the modernization of Boston’s Ruggles Station, which will include the construction of a new 797-foot long, 12-foot wide high-level passenger platform between the Ruggles Station headhouse and Northeastern University’s Columbus Avenue parking garage.
  • A $10.8 million investment in the Wando Welch Terminal Rehabilitation project in South Carolina will help make structural repairs, strengthen the berth, and make related paving and safety improvements. The TIGER funding will also be used for the installation of jacket repairs for damaged piles.

Reversing neglect by repairing U.S. infrastructure, enhancing quality of life and commerce:

  • The New Route 47 Missouri River Bridge Project will replace the decaying, 78 year-old Route 47 Deck and Warren Truss Bridge over the Missouri River in Washington, MO. A $10 million TIGER grant will be put to use to ensure this vital community and economic link continues to serve not only the people of Franklin and Warren Counties but the region as a whole.  With the bridge nearing the end of its useful life, its age and condition create an on-going need for maintenance, resulting in substantial expense to taxpayers and inconvenience to the public. The project includes doubling the travel way from 22 feet to 44 feet, removing the overhead truss, widening the shoulders and adding separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
  • The Three County Roadway Improvements Program will move forward thanks to a $17.9 million TIGER grant that will help Claiborne County, Mississippi improve motor vehicle transportation reliability and safety in an economically-disadvantaged rural region by creating a fully-connected and safe county transportation system that allows direct movement of citizens and goods from rural areas to local economic points of interest.

Supporting Game-Changing Local Initiatives: The $25 million TIGER grant for the Vision Zero project will bolster New York City’s multi-agency plan to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries by redesigning intersections near schools, creating safer pedestrian access to transit and fill a major gap in the city’s protected bicycle lane network that will connect lower-income communities to industrial zones.

Helping communities plan for the future:  An example of a project that is utilizing innovative methodologies to plan for the future is the Land Use Connections for Sustainable Schools project in North Texas that will create a program and implementation plan for a regional working group to promote multimodal transportation options to schools, advance long-term planning for school siting, improve transportation safety near schools and encourage coordination between local governments, independent school districts, and transit agencies within the 12-county area for resource efficiency and sustainability.

The GROW AMERICA Act would authorize $5 billion over four years for much-needed additional TIGER funding to help meet the overwhelming demand for significant infrastructure investments around the country and provide the certainty that states and local governments need to properly plan for investment.  The $302 billion, four year transportation reauthorization proposal would provide increased and stable funding for the nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems without contributing to the deficit.  The GROW AMERICA Act also includes several critical program reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal highway, rail, and transit programs.

Since 2009, the TIGER program has provided nearly $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – including 117 projects to support rural and tribal communities. Demand for the program has been overwhelming, and during the previous five rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 6,000 applications requesting more than $124 billion for transportation projects across the country.  Congress provided the most recent funding as part of the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, signed by President Obama on January 17, 2014.

Click here for additional information on individual TIGER grants.

Click here for additional information on the GROW AMERICA Act.

…if America fails to fund surface transportation improvements

Site-K Editorial Staff

By Greg Sitek

September marks the end of summer and the summer of 2011 will go down in history – tornados ripped cities to shreds, heat baked half the country, the economy ended up with the USA having its credit rating downgraded for the first time ever and a new transportation infrastructure bill remained in limbo as this issue of the ACP magazines were put to bed.

Typically I express my views and opinions on something related to the industry and/or the focus of the magazine. While beating my hallow head against a reinforced brick wall trying to think of what to say I received the following press release from American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the association that brought us the infrastructure report card. The debt ceiling and credit downgrade are important but what about our transportation infrastructure…

ASCE releases first-ever report on how U.S. economy and family budgets will fare if America fails to fund surface transportation improvements 

The nation’s deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $897 billion by 2020, according to a new report released by the ASCE. The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Group of Boston, showed that in 2010, deficiencies in America’s roads, bridges and transit systems cost American households and businesses roughly $130 billion, including approximately $97 billion in vehicle operating costs, $32 billion in delays in travel time, $1.2 billion in safety costs and $590 million in environmental costs.
If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, those costs are expected to grow exponentially. Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000 and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion per year.

“Clearly, failing to invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems has a dramatic negative impact on America’s economy,” said Kathy J. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE, president of ASCE. “The link between a nation’s infrastructure and its economic competitiveness has always been understood. But today, for the first time, we have data showing how much failing to invest in our surface transportation system can negatively impact job growth and family budgets. This report is a wake-up call for policymakers because it shows that investing in infrastructure contributes to creating jobs, while failing to do so hurts main street America.”

American businesses and workers will suffer

The report shows that failing infrastructure will drive the cost of doing business up by adding $430 billion to transportation costs in the next decade. It will cost firms more to ship goods, and the raw materials they buy will cost more due to increased transportation costs.

Productivity across the business sector will also tumble. Those increased costs will cause businesses to underperform by $240 billion over the next decade, which will drive the prices of goods up.As a result, U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion, including 79 of 93 tradable commodities. Ten sectors of the U.S. economy account for more than half of this unprecedented loss in export value – among them key technology sectors like machinery, medical devices, communications equipment, which produces much of this country’s innovations.

America would also lose jobs in high-value sectors as business income goes down. Almost 877,000 jobs would be lost by 2020, primarily in the high-value, professional, business and medical sectors which are vital to America’s knowledge-based service economy.

Ultimately, Americans will get paid less. While the economy would lose jobs, those who are able to find work will find their paychecks cut.

“The cost to businesses will reduce the productivity and competitiveness of American firms relative to global competitors significantly. By 2020, American families will lose more than $7000 because of the ripple effects that will occur throughout the economy,” said Steven Landau of the EDR Group. “Business will have to divert increasing portions of earned income to pay for transportation delays and vehicle repairs, draining money that would otherwise be invested in innovation and expansion.”

Families will have a lower standard of living

A lack of investment in transportation infrastructure would inflict a double whammy on American families who would see their household incomes fall by $60 a month by 2020, while having to spend $30 per month more for goods. The total cost to families would exact about $10,600 per family between now and 2020, equal to $1,600 per year on household budgets.

Modest investment needed

The report estimates that in order to bring the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure up to tolerable levels, policymakers would need to invest approximately $1.7 trillion between now and 2020 in the nation’s highways and transit systems. The U.S. is currently on track to spend a portion of that – $877 billion – during the same timeframe. The infrastructure-funding gap equals $846 billion over 9 years or $94 billion per year.

Small investments in infrastructure, equal to about 60 percent of what Americans spend on fast food each year, would:

  • Protect 1.1 million jobs
  • Save Americans nearly 2 billion hours in travel time each year
  • Deliver an average of $1,060 to each family and
  • Protect $2,600 in GDP for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

The report, the first of four scheduled by the Society, examined the country’s surface transportation infrastructure.  Future reports will examine the state of the nation’s infrastructure as it relates to water and, wastewater delivery and treatment; energy transmission; airports and marine ports.

The full report is available at: http://message.asce.org/forms/FailuretoActdownloadform

This article appeared as the editorial in the September 2011 issues of the ACP magazines:  California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder.

Summertime And The Livin’ Is…

Site-K Editorial Staff

By Greg Sitek

It’s hard to believe that Summer 2011 is nearing its end. Actually it’s difficult to accept this plain, simple recurring fact because as the days shorten and temperatures start to drop in preparation for winter, we have to deal with the fact that we still don’t have a highway bill; that another construction season is slipping away, a season that could have put more than a million people back to work. The Highway Bill extension runs out again in September 2011.

Technically it isn’t the Highway Bill. Federally aided highway construction has existed under a variety of different names for almost a hundred years starting with the Federal-Aid Highway Acts (1916–1987); National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956); Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (1987) ;  Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (1991); National Highway Designation Act (1995); Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998); Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (2005) with the last one SAFETEA-LU having expired in September 2009. Each rendition of these various acts brought us closer to providing our citizens the type of transportation infrastructure this country needs.

As we approached the expiration of SAFETEA-LU congress and industry had unrolled proposals that not only made sense but also laid down the foundation for a transportation infrastructure that would have carried us forward into the distant future. These proposals addressed not only immediate needs for the repair and modernization of our existing infrastructure but also provided for the continued growth and development of our ever-changing commercial-industrial-manufacturing-transportation needs. Had a solid transportation infrastructure bill been enacted and passed now two years ago the construction industry would not be faced with the level of unemployment numbers it is, a level that will not decrease but rather increase as the “building season” winds down.

In the June 19, 2011 issue of Newsweek ran an article by Bill Clinton titled, It’s Still the Economy, Stupid, Fourteen million Americans remain out of work, a waste of our greatest resource. The 42nd president has more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis. In this article former president Clinton lists 14 ways to put America back to work. Many of his recommendations related directly or indirectly to this industry:

  1. Speed the Approvals
  2. Cash for Startups
  3. Jobs Galore in Energy
  4. Copy the Empire State Building (Updates and renovations)
  5. Get the Utilities in on the Action
  6. State by State Solutions
  7. Guarantee Loans
  8. Paint ‘em White (All the roofs in the country as an energy saving measure)
  9. Deals to Make Things
  10. Train on the Job
  11. Teach Skills We Need
  12.  Cut Corporate Taxes
  13. Enforce Trade Laws
  14. Analyze the Opportunities

And, I’m adding a 15th item: Pass a Transportation Bill. Actually this could easily be a part of the Clinton’s 14th item, Analyze the Opportunities because this is an opportunity to put more than a million people back to work.

As you look through the list you can see how many of these tie into construction and construction related activities.

Where am I going with this? I’m encouraging you to contact your Washington representatives and by phone or email and telling them to act on the transportation bill when it comes up in September. Support the various organizations that are involved in making the public aware of our national transportation needs.

Read what the American Concrete Pavement Association  (ACPA) has to say about our need for a highway bill:

Summertime Underscores Need for Highway Bill Now

The American Concrete Pavement Association is urging voters throughout the transportation community to be unrelenting in urging Congress to enact an adequately funded transportation bill.

“This summer is a pivotal time for our industry to remind our federal elected officials of the importance and urgency of finding solutions to the dire situation the construction industry and our highways are facing,” says Gerald F. Voigt, P.E., President and CEO of the American Concrete Pavement Association.

“This is not the time to slow the pace; instead, we need to continue to urge Congress to do the right thing by making highways and other elements of our surface transportation system a top priority,” he says.

Voigt says this is especially important now for several reasons, including:

§  The nations economy continues to falter, and amid the continuing economic uncertainty, unemployment remains at a critical state in the construction industry.   Passage of the highway bill would create and sustain well-paying, long-term jobs for people who want to work and need to work.

§  Summertime brings school recesses, vacation schedules, and other reasons for large groups of people to visit Washington, D.C.   This means elected officials are hearing from many special interests, and because of that, we need to ensure that transportation issues do not get lost in the “hue and cry” of other issues.

§  August is traditionally the time when Senators and Representatives return to their home states and districts, and as such, this presents voters with more opportunities to have direct contact with elected officials at town-hall meetings, fundraising events, and other activities.

§  August 10 marks the sixth anniversary of the signing of the most recent highway bill, which since its expiration, has been extended seven times.  Extensions, says Voigt, make it difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to invest in the future, and with no clear timeline for the next transportation bill, will continue to jeopardize the economic vitality of companies.

§  Retail fuel prices are rising at an alarming rate, and with widespread speculation that motorists will be paying $5/gallon gasoline, motorists can scarcely afford to waste fuel because of the inefficiency and disrepair of our nation’s highways.

Take a Stand
“Talk to your neighbors, your colleagues, your employees and everyone you know who has the power of the vote, and urge them to take a stand, and to tell their elected officials that they demand unselfish and discerning leadership, and the courage to do what is right for this country,” Voigt says.  “Tell them to make the tough call by finding viable, sustainable solutions to find and invest the funds to repair and preserve the nation’s highways.

Voigt adds that every member of the transportation community has the power of the vote, as well as the right to hold elected officials accountable for their actions & and inaction.

“Our ability to move people and goods is critical to this nation,” Voigt says. “Our federal government has underinvested in our nation’s transportation infrastructure for years, and as a result, we are falling further behind in the global marketplace. China, India, and other developing nations understand the value of infrastructure development and the critical link between infrastructure, commerce, personal mobility, and safety. The question we should all be asking is, “Why are those issues any less important in the United States than in other nations?”

“It is disingenuous for anyone to suggest that we can solve this problem without increasing funding.  Accounting for inflation, we invest less in our infrastructure today than we did in 1975.  This is unacceptable, and for every day we put off a solution, we burden our children and those who come after us,” Voigt says.

“Together, we need to make this the summer of action, and not just another season of inaction,” Voigt says.

This is your infrastructure and you have an investment in it, a serious investment. Our representatives in Washington are responsible to us for protecting these investments and managing them so that we can realize a reasonable ROI. Let’s make them accountable.

This article appeared as the editorial in the August 2011 issues of the ACP magazines:  California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder.

TRIP Reports On America’s Rural Roads

America’s Rural Roads Are Deteriorated And Insufficient To Support Economic Growth And Mobility Demands. Rural Traffic Fatalities Are Three Times Higher Than All Other Roads.

America’s rural heartland is home to approximately 50 million people and its natural resources provide the primary source of the energy, food and fiber that supports the nation’s economy and way of life. But, according to a new report, the roads and bridges that serve and connect the nation’s rural areas face a number of significant challenges, including inadequate capacity to handle the growing levels of traffic and commerce, limited connectivity, the inability to accommodate growing freight travel, deteriorated road and bridge conditions, a lack of desirable safety features, and a traffic fatality rate far higher than all other roads and highways. The report, “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland,” was released today by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. It defines Rural America as all places and people living outside the primary daily commuting zones of cities with 50,000 people or more.

The TRIP report found that despite a recent decrease in the overall fatality rate on the nation’s roads, traffic crashes and fatalities on rural roads remain disproportionately high, occurring at a rate more than three times higher than all other roads. In 2009, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.31 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.75 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. And although they carry only 25 percent of all vehicle miles of travel in the U.S., crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 51 percent of the nation’s 33,808 traffic deaths in 2009. Inadequate roadway safety design, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads are factors in the higher traffic fatality rate.

In addition to disproportionately high traffic fatality rates, the roads and bridges in rural America have significant deficiencies. In 2008, 12 percent of the nation’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition and another 43 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition. In 2010, 13 percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient and 10 percent were functionally obsolete.

“The safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas and the health of the nation’s economy ride on our rural transportation system.  This backbone of the heartland allows mobility and connectivity for millions of rural Americans and provides crucial links from farm to market, moves manufactured and energy products, and provides access to countless tourist and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “But, with long-term federal transportation legislation stuck in political gridlock in Washington, America’s rural communities and economies could face even higher unemployment and decline.  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.”

“Congress must not delay in passing a robust, multi-year highway and transit bill in order to address the transportation challenges faced in rural America and the nation as a whole. The reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU is a key opportunity to move U.S. infrastructure into the 21st century, bolster economic recovery efforts, and improve the quality of life in every corner of our nation,” said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

America must adopt transportation policies that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with the level of safe and efficient access that will support quality of life and enhance economic productivity. This can be done, in part, by modernizing and extending key routes to accommodate personal and commercial travel, improving public transit access to rural areas, implementing needed roadway safety improvements, improving emergency response times, and adequately funding state and local transportation programs to insure sufficient preservation and maintenance of rural transportation assets.

 

Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland

 

September 2011

 

Executive Summary

America’s rural heartland plays a vital role as home to a significant share of the nation’s population, many of its natural resources and the primary source of the energy, food and fiber that supports America’s economy and way of life.  The strength of the nation’s rural economy relies greatly on the quality of its transportation system, particularly its roadways, which link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other nations. The economy of rural America, which supports the quality of life for the approximately 50 million Americans living in small communities and rural areas, rides on the quality and connectivity of the rural transportation system. But roads, highways and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges:  they carry growing levels of traffic and commerce, lack adequate capacity, fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities, are not built to adequate standards to accommodate growing freight travel in many corridors, have significant deficiencies, lack many desirable safety features, and experience serious traffic crashes at a rate far higher than all other roads and highways.  This report looks at the condition, use and safety of the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, and identifies needed improvements to America’s rural transportation system.

The following are the most critical findings of the report.Rural America plays a vital role in the U.S. as home to a significant share of the nation’s population, natural resources and as the primary source of the energy, food and fiber which drives the U.S. economy.

  •     Rural America is defined as all places and people living in areas outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or greater.
  • Rural America is home to approximately 50 million people, accounting for approximately 17 percent of the nation’s population. Rural America contains roughly 83 percent of the land in the U.S. and is home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.
  •     The nation’s rural population increased approximately 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, which was a slower rate of growth than urban America, which increased by approximately 11 percent during the same period.
  • Population growth in rural areas has been uneven, with growth being strongest in the South and West, and rural areas in the Upper Plain and Central states more likely to see population losses.
  • A significant movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is considered likely over the next decade as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life, desirable natural amenities and which are often within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas and the health of the nation’s rural economy, based largely on the production of energy, food and fiber, is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, which provide the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market.

  • The annual value of agricultural production in the U.S. is $2.2 trillion
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven other jobs in the agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • A recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that “an effective transportation system supports rural economies, reducing the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, raising the value of their crops and greatly increasing market access.
  • Trucks provide the majority of transportation for agricultural products, providing 46 percent of total ton miles of travel compared to 36 percent by rail and 12 percent by barge.
  • Trucks account for the vast majority of transportation for perishable agricultural items, carrying 91 percent of ton miles of all fruit, vegetables, livestock, meat, poultry and dairy products in the U.S.
  • The Council of State Governments  recently found that “rural highways provide many benefits to the nation’s transportation system, including serving as a bridge to other states, supporting the agriculture and energy industries, connecting economically challenged citizens in remote locations to employers, enabling the movement of people and freight and providing access to America’s tourist attractions.”
  • The importance of a reliable, safe and well-maintained transportation system to economic growth in rural America was highlighted during the recent White House Rural Economic Forum, which was hosted by President Barack Obama on August 16th, 2011in Peosta, Iowa.
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who hosted a breakout session on transportation and infrastructure at the Forum, wrote the following day on his blog, “We know that affordable transportation choices in our rural communities give residents better access to jobs and health care, and provide an incentive for much-needed economic development.  And continued federal investments in rural communities will create construction jobs and ensure that farmers and ranchers have the roads, rail lines, and ports they need to move their products to market.”
  • Transportation is becoming an even more critical segment of the food distribution network.  While food demand is concentrated mostly in urban areas, food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy.
  • A report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council recommends that governments improve the quality of their transportation systems serving the movement of goods from rural to urban regions as a strategy to lower food costs and increase economic prosperity.
  • A report on agricultural transportation by the USDA found it likely that market changes and shifts in consumer preferences would further increase the reliance on trucking to move U.S. agricultural products.
  • Travel and tourism in the U.S. generated over $700 billion in revenues in 2009 and the nation’s national parks, which are largely located in rural areas, receive 300 million visitors per year, many in personal vehicles.

Increases in domestic energy extraction and the production of renewable energy are increasing the demand on the nation’s rural highway system.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.7 billion gallons in 2000 to 10.6 billion gallons in 2010.  Federal mandates require that production of renewable fuels, including biofuels and cellulosic fuels, reach 36 billion gallons per year by 2022.
  • The number of bio-refineries in the U.S. increased from 89 to nearly 500 between 2000 and 2010.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in the North Central Plains is placing significant increased loads on the highways in those regions.

Rural Transportation Challenge:  Connectivity

Growing demand for rural mobility, combined with the failure to significantly expand the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its network of modern highways, has resulted in a lack of adequate connectivity, which is impeding the potential for economic growth in many rural areas.

  • Travel per-lane mile on rural Interstate routes increased by 34 percent from 1990 to 2009. During the same timeframe, travel per-lane mile on the nation’s non-Interstate rural roads increased by 15 percent.
  • Sixty-six cities of 50,000 or more in the U.S. do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System.  A list of the 66 cities can be found in Appendix A.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled from 165 million to 311 million.
  • The abandonment of more than 100,000 miles of rail lines in recent decades, mostly in rural areas, has reduced access in many rural communities and increased reliance on trucking for freight movement.
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available and 28 percent of those have very limited service.

Rural Transportation Challenge:  Safety

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural roads occur at a rate more than three times higher than all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities take place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than three times higher than all other roads. In 2009, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.31 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.76 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.
  • Crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 17,075 fatalities in 2009, accounting for more than half – 51 percent – of the nation’s 33,808 traffic deaths in 2009.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 25 percent of all vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. in 2009.
  • While fatality rates on all roads have decreased in recent years, the drop in the fatality rate on rural roads has lagged behind that of all other roads from 2000 to 2009. From 2000 to 2009, the fatality rate on all roads, excluding non-Interstate rural roads, decreased by 28 percent (1.05 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel to .76).   However, during the same timeframe, the traffic fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate routes declined by only 13 percent (2.65 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles of travel to 2.31).
  • The chart below details the twenty states that led the nation in the number of rural non-Interstate traffic deaths in 2009. Data for each state is available in Appendix B.

State

2009 Rural

Non-interstate

traffic deaths

Texas

1,490

California

1,164

North Carolina

907

Florida

906

South Carolina

791

Pennsylvania

611

Ohio

601

Kentucky

584

Missouri

533

Georgia

527

New York

524

Tennessee

519

Mississippi

464

Alabama

449

Oklahoma

444

Arkansas

418

Virginia

371

Michigan

369

Indiana

365

Wisconsin

363 

  • The chart below details the states with the highest rate of rural non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million miles of travel in 2009 and fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel on all other roads in the state in 2009. Data for each state is available in Appendix C. 

State

Non-Interstate

rural

All other

roads

South Carolina

4.70

.32

Florida

3.47

.98

Rhode Island

2.99

.89

Arkansas

2.89

.89

California

2.86

.68

Texas

2.83

.89

Kentucky

2.82

.78

Arizona

2.78

.98

Montana

2.76

1.14

North Dakota

2.75

.48

North Carolina

2.74

.43

Oklahoma

2.71

.96

Tennessee

2.68

.92

West Virginia

2.62

1.21

Louisiana

2.57

1.49

Kansas

2.50

.57

Delaware

2.41

.79

Oregon

2.34

.53

Nevada

2.33

.98

Missouri

2.31

.75

Inadequate roadway safety design, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads are factors in the higher traffic fatality rate found on rural, non-Interstate routes.

  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have poor roadway design, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes.  Seventy percent of the nation’s urban non-freeway arterial and collector roads have two-lanes, compared to 94 percent of rural non-freeway, arterial and collector routes having two-lanes.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have narrow lanes.  A desirable lane width for collector and arterial roadways is at least 11 feet.  But, 24 percent of rural collector and arterial roads have lane widths of 10 feet or less, compared to 18 percent of urban collector and arterial roads with lane widths of 10 feet or less.
  • In 2009, 34 percent of all fatal crashes on non-Interstate rural roads involved a vehicle leaving the roadway, whereas only 21 percent of fatal traffic crashes on all other routes involved a vehicle leaving the roadway.
  • In 2009, vehicles driving on rural roads were nearly twice as likely as vehicles on all other roads to be involved in a fatal traffic accident while attempting to negotiate curves.  In 2009, 23 percent of all vehicle occupants killed in rural, non-Interstate crashes involved a vehicle attempting to negotiate a curve, while only 12 percent of vehicle occupants killed in all other crashes involved a vehicle attempting to negotiate a curve.
  • Vehicles driving on non-Interstate rural roads are far more likely than vehicles traveling on all other roads to be involved in a fatal head-on collision.  In 2009, 15 percent of rural fatal multi-vehicle crashes were head-on collisions, compared to eight percent of all other traffic crashes.
  • While the vast majority of rural roads are two-lane facilities, very few rural traffic fatalities occurred while one vehicle was trying to pass another.  In 2009, only three percent of all vehicle occupants killed in rural, non-Interstate crashes died in crashes where one vehicle was trying to pass another vehicle.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve.
  • While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.

Numerous roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities.  These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. 

  • The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the amount of funding available and the nature of the safety problem on that section of road.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid resistant surfaces at curves and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • The use of Roadway Safety Assessments (RSAs) is a proven approach that can improve roadway safety on rural roads.  Improved data collection on rural road safety can help to identify roadway segments with dangerous characteristics..
  • Systemic installation of cost effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting problem points (“black spots”) on a road, but also making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.

Rural Transportation Challenge:  Deficient Conditions

The nation’s rural roads, highways and bridges have significant deficiencies.

  • In 2008, 12 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition and another 43 percent were rated in fair condition.
  • The chart below details the states with the greatest percentage of major rural roads in poor condition in 2008. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in the Appendix D.

STATE

PERCENT POOR

Vermont

36

Idaho

31

Oklahoma

30

Rhode Island

30

Hawaii

29

Kansas

28

West Virginia

27

Arkansas

23

New Hampshire

21

New Mexico

21

Alaska

20

Missouri

20

Connecticut

19

Maine

19

California

18

Pennsylvania

17

South Dakota

17

Michigan

16

Illinois

16

Mississippi

15

  • In 2010, 13 percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • In 2010, 10 percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • The chart below details the states with the highest share of rural bridges rated structurally deficient in 2010.  Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E.

 

stATE

Percent Structurally Deficient

Pennsylvania

28

Rhode Island

26

Oklahoma

23

Iowa

23

South Dakota

21

Nebraska

19

Missouri

18

North Dakota

17

Mississippi

16

Hawaii

16

New Hampshire

15

Maine

15

Louisiana

15

North Carolina

14

New York

14

Michigan

14

West Virginia

14

South Carolina

14

California

14

New Jersey

13

Transportation Opportunities in Rural America

America must adopt transportation policies that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with the a level of safe and efficient access that will support quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

The following recommendations by TRIP for an improved rural transportation system are also based partially on findings and recommendations made recently by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),the National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Improve access and connectivity in America’s small communities and rural areas

 

  • Widen and extend key highway routes, including Interstates, to increase connectivity to smaller and emerging communities to facilitate access to jobs, education and healthcare while improving access for agriculture, energy, manufacturing, forestry, tourism and other critical segments of the rural economy.
  • The NCHRP report found that the construction of an additional 30,000 lane miles of limited access highways, largely along existing corridors, is needed to address the nation’s need for increased rural connectivity.
  • Modernize major two-lane roads and highways so they can accommodate increased personal and commercial travel.
  • Improve public transit service in rural America to provide improved access for people without access to private vehicles, including older people.

Improve rural traffic safety

  • Adequately fund needed rural roadway safety improvements and provide enhanced enforcement, education and improved emergency response to reduce the rate of rural traffic fatalities.
  • Implement cost-effective roadway safety improvements, including  rumble strips, shoulder improvements, lane widening, curve reductions, skid resistant surfaces at curves, passing lanes, intersection improvements and improved signage, pavement markings and lighting, guardrails and barriers, and improved shielding of obstacles.

Improve the condition of rural roads, highways and bridges

  • Adequately fund local and state transportation programs to insure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways and bridges to maintain transportation service and also to accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.

All data used in this report is the most current available.  Sources of information for this report include:  The Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Council of State Governments and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

AEM President Dennis Slater: Congressional Action on Highway Bill Critical to American Jobs

Dennis Slater, AEM President

AEM President Dennis Slater today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s comments on the highway bill:

Infrastructure investment is a critical job creator. Roads, highways and bridges aren’t funded or built a few months at a time. These critical projects require long-term planning. Extending a clean highway bill, as President Obama today called on Congress to do, provides America’s equipment manufacturers with the certainty they need to hire, contractors with the certainty they need to make capital investments in new equipment and employees, and the U.S economy with a badly needed growth engine. Failure to extend the highway bill would further endanger the already tenuous economic recovery America’s manufacturers are working so hard to strengthen. Rebuilding and modernizing our public infrastructure is a safety, economic and competitiveness issue that Congress has a serious responsibility to address.