Tag Archive for 'economy'

ARTBA Leads the Way on Transportation Infrastructure Investment & Innovation

ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger, left, testifies at a July 16 congressional hearing.

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA’s volunteer leaders, members, and staff this week in Washington, D.C., advocated for the transportation design and construction industry on several fronts:

  • July 16: ARTBA Chairman Bob Alger, chairman of The Lane Construction Corporation, told a congressional hearing that the best way to increase investment in public transit and other transportation options is to provide a permanent revenue solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  “Congress’s chronic failure to fix the Highway Trust Fund program threatens all federal surface transportation programs,” he said. His remarks drew praise from the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
  • July 17: More than 80 people from 26 states attended the 6th Annual National Workshop for State & Local Transportation, a signature program of ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ (TIAC). “The importance of this event likely isn’t lost on anyone here,” ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer said during his welcome remarks. While 31 states have increased their gas tax since 2013 and taken other measure to increase investment, the federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993 and the trust fund revenue shortfall has not been addressed.
  • July 17-19: Professionals from design and construction firms, federal and state government agencies, and the legal and finance sectors gathered for the 31st Annual Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in Transportation Conference. In spirited panel discussions, industry experts discussed shifts in P3 risk, the impact of federal deregulation, and new market opportunities. ARTBA’s P3 Division announced its annual award winners, mentored the next generation of industry leaders, and named its new officers for the coming year.

ARTBA is pressing members of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee to develop a surface transportation reauthorization bill before Congress recesses for its summer break.

“It’s common to belittle the outlook for action on infrastructure,” Bauer said in his welcoming remarks to the P3 Conference, “but over the last two years we’ve had $10 billion of additional investment, and the EPW Committee is working on a reauthorization bill one year early instead of multiple years late.”

Bauer emphasized, however, that, “While we are not where we want to be, we are clearly moving in the right direction.”

ARTBA Reports: Transportation Spending Measure Advances in House

The House Appropriations Committee June 4 advanced a $137.1 billion FY 2020 spending bill covering transportation and housing. The bill would provide $86.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), a slight increase over current funding levels.

The measure was approved in a 29-21 vote, mostly along party lines. The Trump administration had requested an $11 billion reduction in spending. A comparison of this bill to the previous year’s spending levels on highway, transit, and aviation construction programs can be viewed below.

A bipartisan duo, Reps. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), tried and failed to strike three riders that Womack said would “place an unacceptable burden on the trucking industry.” One would prevent U.S. DOT from establishing uniform hours of service rules for truckers, another would require U.S. DOT to publish trucking company safety violations, and the third would prohibit changes to the 30-minute rest break rule. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) also offered an amendment unsuccessfully that would remove a provision from the bill preventing U.S. DOT from taking back funds from California’s high-speed rail project.

House Democrats say they will put a roughly $1 trillion package of five unrelated annual spending bills on the floor next week. The remaining bills, including the transportation measure, are likely to be considered by the full House later this month. Republicans say the appropriations bills should not move forward until the House, Senate and White House agree on top-line spending levels for FY 2020, the approach the Senate has thus far taken.

ARTBA will continue advocating for FAST Act authorized funding levels and increased General Fund spending as this process moves forward.

AEM: Photos Tell the Stories of Equipment Manufacturing Workers

Photos were taken by documentary photographer Brad Romano were unveiled today by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). More than 150 photos were collected as part of an ongoing effort to help tell the story of the 1.3 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry. The photos were taken in April of this year at AGCO Corporation (Jackson, MN), Komatsu (Peoria, IL), Superior Industries (Morris, MN), Vermeer Corporation (Pella, IA), Weiler (Knoxville, IA), and Woods Equipment (Oregon, IL).
The first batch of photos, two dozen in total, are featured on I Make America’s website (AEM’s national grassroots campaign) and on I Make America’s new Instagram account. I Make America is made up of 50,000 supporters from across the country who advocate for policies that support manufacturing jobs and help America’s equipment manufacturers compete globally.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, and these photos will help tell the stories of the 1.3 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry,” said Kip Eideberg, AEM’s vice president of government and industry relations. “Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. make decisions that impact our industry, our jobs, and our communities, and we want them to better understand what our industry looks like and get to know some of the men and women who make America.”
AGCO Corporation
“AGCO was proud to take part in this project by featuring the women and men at our Jackson, Minn. manufacturing facility. Our employees make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy, so its important policymakers know the decisions they make impacts American manufacturing workers like ours. That’s why telling their story is so important and we feel these photos help do that. AGCO was proud to participate.” – Robert Crain, Senior Vice President, and General Manager Americas, AGCO Corporation
Chase Vaske, AGCO Corporation, all suited up in preparation to enter the machinery painting booth at AGCO’s Jackson, Minn. Manufacturing facility.
Komatsu
“The industries we equip are essential to modern life. Employees at our 28 North American manufacturing facilities are essential contributors to vital economies, producing high-quality equipment that allows our customers to drive society forward. From towns across the United States, our teams bring to life the Komatsu commitment to safety, quality, and reliability. We are honored our teams’ hard work is highlighted in this important photo series from AEM, and grateful for the generations of Komatsu employees who have contributed to our rich history.” – Michael Gidaspow, director of sales and marketing for Komatsu’s North America Central Region
A Komatsu employee at the company’s Peoria Manufacturing Operation in Illinois inspects the quality of work on an electric dump truck component. Komatsu has 28 manufacturing facilities across the United States that produce equipment to support the global construction, mining, forklift, and forestry industries.
Superior Industries
“Generally, most of Superior’s manufacturing facilities are located in small-town America. It’s here where we find loyal employees looking for hard work and lots of opportunities. We’re grateful to AEM for showcasing our humble, rural colleagues. Together, they’re building equipment that strengthens our infrastructure and powers American development.” – Corey Poppe, Communications Manager, Superior Industries
Scott is a pulley welder at Superior’s conveyor components production facility in Morris, Minnesota. Pulleys are an integral component in the manufacturer’s conveyors that are used in the aggregate production process.
Vermeer Corporation
“Our Vermeer team designs, builds and supports equipment that is making an incredible impact. The work of our team here in Pella, Iowa and around the world helps feed and fuel communities, connect people to the necessities of life and manage natural resources. We hope that sharing images of the work of this team helps show the importance of equipment manufacturing to the economy both in the U.S. and globally.” – Jason Andringa, President and CEO, Vermeer
Assemblers on the Vermeer baler line work together to build one of the most iconic pieces of Vermeer equipment, the round baler.
Weiler
“Telling the story of our workers through this photographer’s camera enables us to show policymakers who is most impacted by the decisions they make every day. Weiler depends on skilled workers like the ones featured in these photos to design, engineer and manufacture asphalt paving products in Knoxville, Iowa. They are the reason Weiler is able to produce the equipment needed to build infrastructure through contractors in all fifty states and around the world.” – Megan Weiler Green, Counsel, Weiler
Zach Clark is an Assembler with Weiler. He is installing hydraulic lines to the hydraulic pump of a Weiler road widener.
Woods Equipment
“Our employees are proud of the products we manufacture and even prouder to be building them here in the USA — in the same spot the Woods brothers founded our company in 1946. We have many, many Team Members whose parents, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents worked here. They want to continue the legacy and keep these high-quality jobs in Oregon, Illinois, for their children and grandchildren. That’s why we’re strong supporters of I Make America and do all we can to help AEM tell the story of American workers.” – Angela Kay Larson, Vice President, Marketing, Woods Equipment, a division of Blount International
Jason Grenoble, Batwing® Assembler. Jason Grenoble completes the assembly of a Batwing® rotary cutter
To encourage investment, job growth, and development and production of more equipment in the United States, AEM advocates on behalf of its more than 1,000 members to urge elected officials to champion policies that creates a globally competitive business environment, rebuilds our nation’s infrastructure, opens foreign markets for equipment manufactures in the United States, and keeps the U.S. agricultural economy strong. The association’s membership represents companies with over 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, mining, forestry, and utility industries. This year, AEM is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
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About AEM
AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry supports 1.3 million jobs in the U.S., and 149,000 more in Canada. Equipment manufacturers also contribute $188 billion combined to the U.S. and Canadian economies. AEM is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019.
For more information on AEM’s advocacy leadership, please visit www.aem.org/advocacy.
About I Make America
I Make America is the grassroots campaign of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers
(AEM), which advocates for policies that support manufacturing jobs and help America’s
equipment manufacturers compete globally. For more information about I Make America, please visit www.imakeamerica.org.

TRIP: U.S. RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT GROWTH & CONNECTIVITY

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. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and states with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads.

The report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Fifteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Seventeen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 47 percent are in good condition. Nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.  Forty-six percent of rural bridges are rated fair.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges for daily life and to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving, American agriculture competitive and rural Americans safe.”

In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, the TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural non-Interstate roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural roads are more likely to have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.

“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”

The TRIP report found that America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty, the report found.  The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017 and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.  The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people who are making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017, the TRIP report noted.

America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food, and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of millions of Americans every day,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act. Making critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

“The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. Our rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”

WWW.TRIPNET.ORG

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 popular tourist destinations. It is also 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 is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system, particularly the roads and highways that link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other countries. The quality and connectivity of America’s rural transportation system support the economy of the entire nation and quality of life for the approximately 60 million Americans living in rural areas.

Good transportation is essential in rural areas to provide access to jobs, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, to access opportunities for health care and educational skills, and to provide links to other social services. Transportation supports businesses and is a critical factor in a company’s decision to locate new business operations. For communities that rely on tourism and natural amenities to help support their economy, transportation is the key link between visitors and destinations.

Roads, highways, rails, and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges: they lack adequate capacity; they fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities; and, they cannot adequately support growing freight travel in many corridors. Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration, they lack many desirable safety features, and they experience fatal 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.

Rural areas in this report are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.  Road, bridge and safety data in this report is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition for rural areas, which allows states to use the U.S. Census Bureau definition to identify rural routes or to define rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or more. The following are the key findings of the report.

AMERICA’S RURAL HEARTLAND

Rural America is the primary source of energy, food, and fiber that drives the U.S. economy.  The decline in the rural population has been halted largely due to increasing employment and declining poverty. 

  • The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau definition, 19 percent of the nation’s residents live in rural areas – approximately 60 million people.
  • The nation’s rural areas account for 97 percent of America’s land area and are home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.
  • America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty.
  • The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017, and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.
  • The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017.
  • America’s rural economy is far more reliant on goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing that is the nation’s urban economy.
  • Many of the transportation challenges facing rural America are similar to those in urbanized areas. However, rural residents tend to be more heavily reliant on their limited transportation network – primarily rural roads and highways – than their counterparts in urban areas. Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services.
  • Nineteen percent of the rural population is 65 years or older, compared to 15 percent in urban areas.
  • The movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is likely to continue in the future as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life and desirable natural amenities, while often located within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.
  • The amount of rural tourism in a region is tied partly to the level of highway access. Eighty-six percent of trips taken by Americans to visit rural areas are for leisure purposes.
  • Popular tourist activities in rural America include hiking, golfing, biking, hunting, fishing and water sports. Rural areas are also home to beaches, national and state parks, wineries, orchards, and other national amenities.

RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY RELY ON TRANSPORTATION

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways, and bridges. America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market while supporting the tourism industry and enabling the production of energy, food, and fiber.

  • Freight mobility and efficiency are fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity. Economic growth and stability in rural areas are heavily reliant on the ability to move raw materials into, or the value-added products out of, these areas.
  • Agriculture, food, and related industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, apparel manufacturing and food and beverage stores and establishments — which rely on agricultural inputs — contributed $1.05 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. This represents 5.7 percent of overall U.S. GDP.
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven more jobs in agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • Employment in goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, accounts for 11 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus two percent in the urban economy.
  • Manufacturing jobs account for 15 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus nine percent in the urban economy.
  • A United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) report 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, accounting for 47 percent of total ton-miles of travel compared to 37 percent by rail and eight percent by barge.
  • The Council of State Governments 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.”
  • 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 highly competitive and efficient transportation system can lead to lower food costs for U.S. consumers and higher market prices for producers due to lower shipping costs, smaller margins, and more competitive export prices.
  • 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.

RURAL CONNECTIONS TO TOURISM AND RECREATION

The condition and quality of the nation’s highway system plays a critical role in providing access to America’s many tourist destinations, particularly its scenic parks and recreational areas, which are mostly located in rural areas.

  • America’s 418 national parks, which are largely located in rural areas, received a record 318 million visitors in 2018, many in personal vehicles.
  • In 2018, domestic and international travelers in the U.S. spent approximately $1.1 trillion.
  • Travel and tourism spending in the U.S. in 2018 supported 8.9 million jobs.

RURAL ACCESS TO ENERGY SOURCES

Travel loads on America’s rural roads are increasing, due partly to the booming energy extraction sector. This has been driven by increases in domestic oil and gas extraction, largely as a result of advancements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has greatly increased the accessibility of shale oil and gas deposits, and the increased production of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to 16.1 billion gallons in 2018.
  • U.S. production of liquid fuels, including crude oil and natural gas, increased 74 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing liquid fuel’s share of overall U.S. energy production (including coal and nuclear) from 48 to 63 percent.
  • U.S. production of renewable energy, including wind and solar, increased 92 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing renewable energy’s share of overall U.S. energy production from nine to 12 percent.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in numerous areas, particularly in the North Central Plains, and increased agricultural production are placing increased traffic loads by large trucks on non-Interstate rural roads, which often have not been constructed to carry such high load volumes.
  • The average travel per-lane-mile by large trucks on rural Interstate highways in the U.S. increased by 33 percent from 2000 to 2017.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: CONNECTIVITY

The potential for additional economic growth in many rural areas is being impeded by the failure to significantly modernize the nation’s rural transportation system and provide for adequate connectivity.

  • Sixty-six U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System (Appendix A).
  • Rural transportation accessibility and connectivity are critical to transportation-dependent business sectors, including the growing energy production sector, advanced manufacturing and tourism. Many jobs located in urban areas also depend on economic input from rural communities.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled, from 165 million to 327 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.
  • A report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials(AASHTO) found that connectivity is particularly poor in rural portions of Western states because of the significant distance between Interstate highway routes and the lack of adequate rail service.
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available. Twenty-eight percent of those have very limited service.
  • Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services. Rural residents also assume additional risks as a result of living in areas that may be farther from emergency response services including police, fire or medical assistance.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: SAFETY

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities takes place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate of 0.88 deaths per 100 million VMT on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all VMT in the U.S. in 2017. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 41 percent (15,205 of 37,133) of the nation’s traffic deaths in 2017.
  • The chart below identifies the 25 states that led the nation in the number of rural non-Interstate traffic deaths in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix B.

  • The chart below identifies the 25 states with the highest rate of rural non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on all other roads in the state in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix C.

The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, 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. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s rural non-freeway arterial roads have two-lanes, compared to 56 percent of urban non-freeway arterial routes.
  • 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. Twenty-three 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.
  • 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.

Many 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. Making needed roadway safety improvements would result in a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

  • The U.S. has a $146 billion backlog in needed roadway safety improvements, according to a 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The report found implementing these cost-effective and needed roadway safety improvements on U.S. roadways would save approximately 63,700 lives and reduce the number of serious injuries as a result of traffic crashes by approximately 350,000 over 20 years.
  • The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the nature of the safety problem on that section of road and the amount of funding available.
  • 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, converting conventional intersections to roundabouts, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost-effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points 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 CHALLENGES: DEFICIENT ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The nation’s rural roads, highways, and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration. Fourteen percent of the nation’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition, and nearly one-in-ten of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement.

  • In 2017, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition, 21 percent were rated in mediocre condition, 17 percent were rated in fair condition and 47 percent were rated in good condition.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the greatest percentage of rural roads in poor condition in 2017. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in Appendix D.

  • In 2018, nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as poor/structurally deficient. Forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated fair and forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated in good condition. A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, agricultural equipment, school buses, and emergency services vehicles.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the highest share of rural bridges rated poor/structurally deficient in 2018. Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E.

TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA

America must adopt transportation policies that improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with a level of safe and efficient access that will support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity. TRIP recommends the following for an improved rural transportation system, based partially on findings and recommendations made by 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.
  • An 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 mobility for people without access to private vehicles.

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 ensure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways, and bridges to maintain transportation service and accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

America’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges would be greatly enhanced if Congress is able to provide a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream capable of fully funding the federal surface transportation program.  The current five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs.

  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways, and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety.

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

ARTBA Industry Leader Development Program Fellows Push Members of Congress for Permanent Highway Trust Fund Solution

Twenty-four emerging leaders in the transportation design and construction industry participated in an intensive May 13-15 Washington, D.C., “boot camp” introduction to the federal legislative and regulatory processes. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s Industry Leader Development Program (ILDP) fellows visited Capitol Hill to urge their members of Congress to find a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and push for timely action on a new transportation infrastructure investment package.

The annual event was held in conjunction with the association’s Federal Issues Program and the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In.

There have been more than 700 graduates from over 200 industry firms since the ILDP’s inception in 1995 when it was known as the Young Executive Development Program.

The ILDP provides participants with a solid understanding of industry economics, how transportation work in the U.S. is funded and financed, how actions by the federal government impact the industry, and how they—and their company or agency—can become politically engaged.  Participants heard from House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) at a dinner event, where he discussed prospects for the next federal highway/transit investment bill.

The 2019 ILDP class included:

  • Julia Barker, vice president & area manager, Parsons Corporation, Denver, Colo.
  • Jerae Carlson, vice president, sustainability & public affairs, CEMEX, Inc., Houston, Texas
  • Mitchell Cooper, vice president, Cooper Engineering, Corona, Calif.
  • Tyler Farella, project manager, Parsons Construction Group, Inc., Westminster, Colo.
  • Keith Foxx, manager, transportation, RK&K, Baltimore, Md.
  • Victor Fricke, area manager, Gulf Coast, Texas Sterling Construction Co., Houston
  • Travis Gates, project manager, Ranger Construction Industries, Inc., West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Cody Jackson, project manager, Jones Bros Contractors, LLC, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
  • Andrew Kitchen, senior project manager, The Lane Construction Corporation, Glen Burnie, Md.
  • Sherina Lam, project manager, AECOM, Sacramento, Calif.
  • William Letchworth, assistant vice president, Raleigh Office Lead, WSP, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Howard Lubliner, department manager, Burns and McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Mark Luther, vice president, WSP, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Kim Maiolo, director of communications and outreach, Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Zach McClellan, geotechnical design manager, Ferrovial Agroman US Corp, Austin, Texas
  • Christopher McGuire, Maryland surface transportation leader, AECOM, Baltimore, Md.
  • Eric Ogren, vice president of estimating, project management, Harrison Construction Division of APAC – Atlantic, Inc., Asheville, N.C.
  • Brett Paulk, vice president, H.O. Weaver & Sons, Inc., Mobile, Ala.
  • Brian Pourciau, senior engineer, Parsons, Washington, D.C.
  • Carrie Rocha, vice president, office leader, HNTB Corporation, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Kenneth Shovlin, director of engineering, American Bridge Company, Coraopolis, Pa.
  • Brian Smith, senior project manager, AECOM, Ontario, Calif.
  • Brian Teles, senior project manager, structures group manager, office principal, Gannett Fleming, Inc., Audubon, Pa.
  • Ryan Terry, project director, The Lane Construction Corporation, Virginia Beach, Va.

Established in 1985, the ARTBA Foundation is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt entity designed to “promote research, education and public awareness” about the impacts of transportation investment.  It supports an array of initiatives, including educational scholarships, awards, management and education programs, roadway work zone safety training, special economic research and reports, American National Standards Institute-accredited transportation project safety certification, and an exhibition on transportation at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.