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TRIP Report: Americas Rural Roads And Bridges Have Significant Deficiencies And High Fatality Rates; Repairs And Modernization Needed To Improve Conditions, Boost Safety And Support Agriculture, Energy And Tourism

TRIPAmerica’s rural heartland is home to nearly 50 million people, and its natural resources provide the energy, food and fiber that support the nation’s economy and way of life. But, a new report finds that the nation’s rural transportation system, which is critical to the nation’s booming agriculture, energy and tourism sectors, is in need of modernization to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates and inadequate connectivity and capacity. 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 counties that lack an urban area of at least 50,000 in population or lack a large commuting flow to an urban county.

STATE Percent Rural Roads in Poor Condition STATE Percent Deficient Rural Bridges STATE Fatality Rate Rural/All Other Roads
1 Connecticut 35 Pennsylvania 25% South Carolina 3.99 / 0.68
2 Rhode Island 33 Rhode Island 25% Florida 3.35 / 0.95
3 West Virginia 33 Iowa 22% West Virginia 2.8 / 0.99
4 Hawaii 32 South Dakota 21% Texas 2.76 / 1.03
5 Michigan 32 Oklahoma 20% Arkansas 2.71 / 0.87
6 Kansas 30 Hawaii 19% Tennessee 2.68 / 0.95
7 Oklahoma 29 Nebraska 19% Arizona 2.66 / 1.11
8 Maine 28 North Dakota 17% Kentucky 2.64 / 0.78
9 Mississippi 25 Maine 16% California 2.61 / 0.63
10 Arkansas 23 Louisiana 16% Pennsylvania 2.6 / 0.91
11 Missouri 23 Missouri 15% Oklahoma 2.52 / 0.92
12 Washington 22 New Hampshire 15% Hawaii 2.48 / 0.89
13 New Mexico 21 Mississippi 14% North Carolina 2.44 / 0.64
14 Alabama 21 North Carolina 14% Montana 2.4 / 0.95
15 V ermont 21 New Jersey 14% North Dakota 2.33 / 0.77
16 Alaska 20 Wyoming 14% Kansas 2.26 / 0.74
17 New Hampshire 18 New York 14% South Dakota 2.21 / 0.74
18 Virginia 18 Michigan 14% Ohio 2.15 / 0.63
19 Wisconsin 17 West Virginia 13% New York 2.13 / 0.59
20 Pennsylvania 17 California 13% Indiana 2.09 / 0.56

TRIP_Rural_Roads-2-segments-01 (1)The TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate nearly three times higher than all other roads. In2012, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.21 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.78 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural traffic fatality rates remain stubbornly high, despite a substantial decrease in the number of overall fatalities.

“More than 46 million Americans live in rural and less densely populated areas of the country where their primary mode of transportation is a personal vehicle,” stated Kathleen Bower, AAA Vice President, Public Affairs. “Motorists expect and deserve safe, well maintained roads and bridges no matter if they are traveling on the Interstates or rural roads. Congress must act quickly to provide a sustainable solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund to ensure that states can continue to make necessary infrastructure investments that will benefit all travelers.”

TRIP_Rural_Roads-2-segments-02 (1)In addition to disproportionately high traffic fatality rates, the roads and bridges in rural America have significant deficiencies. In 2012, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition and another 40 percent were rated in mediocre or fair condition. In 2013, 12 percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient and 10 percent were functionally obsolete.

“America’s rural transportation system is an integral component to the success and quality of life for U.S. farmers and ranchers,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Adequate roads and bridges are necessary to deliver our agricultural bounty to markets at home and abroad. As we see additional growth and opportunities in rural America, we must work together to take advantage of those opportunities and to ensure that infrastructure supports and enhances our rural communities.”

TRIP_Rural_Roads-2-segments-03The report also finds that the development of major new oil and gas fields in numerous areas as well as increased agricultural production are placing significantly 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 major, non-arterial rural roads in the U.S. has increased by 16 percent from 2000 to 2012.

The federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding for rural roads. But a lack of adequate funding of the federal program may result in a significant cut in federal funding for the country’s roads, highways and bridges. The impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as this summer, when the balance in the Highway Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, which will trigger delays in the federal reimbursement to states for road, highway and bridge projects, which would likely result in states delaying numerous projects.

“So many of our industry’s manufacturing facilities and their workers are located in rural America, where they depend on safe and efficient roads for their livelihoods,” said Rick Patek, group president of Astec Industries and 2014 chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). “As Congress weighs how to extend the Highway Trust Fund, they would be well-advised to read this report and consider the effects of their actions on rural roads.”

TRIP_Rural_Roads-2-segments-04Nationwide federal funding for highways is expected to be cut by almost 100 percent from the current investment level for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2014 (FY 2015) unless Congress provides additional transportation revenues. This is due to a cash shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to adopt transportation policies 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 quality of life and enhance economic productivity. To accomplish this, the report recommends modernizing and extending key routes to accommodate personal and commercial travel, implementing needed roadway safety improvements, improving public transit access to rural areas, and adequately funding the preservation and maintenance of rural transportation assets.

TRIP_Rural_Roads-2-segments-05“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,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “This backbone of the heartland allows mobility and connectivity for millions of rural Americans. The nation’s rural roads provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourist and recreational destinations. 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.”

For additional information visit:

National Rural Roads News Release | 07/10/2014
America’s Rural Roads and Bridges Have Significant Deficiencies and High Fatality Rates; Repairs and Modernization Needed to Improve Conditions, Boost Safety and Support Agriculture, Energy and Tourism

State Rural Roads News Releases | 07/10/2014
AZ, AR, CA, CT, HI, IA, KS, LA, ME, MI, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI & WY

Rural Roads Report | 07/10/2014
Rural Connections Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland

Rural Roads Report Appendix A | 07/10/2014
Urban Areas with Populations Over 50,000 with No Direct Access to Interstates

Rural Roads Report Appendix B | 07/10/2014
2012 Rural Non-Interstate Traffic Deaths

Rural Roads Report Appendix C | 07/10/2014
2012 Fatality Rate per 100 million Vehicle Miles of Travel

Rural Roads Report Appendix D | 07/10/2014
2012 Rural Arterial and Major Collector Pavement Conditions

Rural Roads Report Appendix E | 07/10/2014
2013 Rural Bridge Conditions

ASCE Reports: States Hit the Brakes on Road Projects As Federal Fund Goes Broke

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonInstead of shifting into high gear during what is normally the peak of construction season, state transportation departments around the country are easing off the gas pedal as the federal Highway Trust Fund barrels toward insolvency sometime next month.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the highway account of the Highway Trust Fund, which allocated $37 billion to the states for highway projects in the fiscal year that ends September 30, will run out of money in August unless Congress can come up with a solution before then. (The mass transit account of the fund is in slightly better shape, but not by much.) The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) put together state fact sheets for at least 26 states listing projects that are in jeopardy without federal funding. See if your state is on the list.

Read More: Stateline 7/2/2014

ASCE Reports: USDOT Announces Plans to Change Payment Schedule to States Starting August 1

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonOn Tuesday,July 1, 2014,  President Obama addressed a group of transportation advocates, including ASCE’s President Randy Over, P.E., F.ASCE, near Key Bridge in Washington, D.C. where he urged Congress to act to prevent insolvency of the federal highway program.  “I haven’t heard a good reason for why they (Congress) haven’t acted,” Obama said.  “It’s not like they’re busy with other stuff,” the president said in reference to the fact that the 113th Congress has passed fewer bills than any other in modern history.  Next week, the House and Senate are scheduled to convene while tax committee leaders negotiate on a bipartisan solution to ensure highway funding for the remainder of the calendar year.

That same day, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that beginning August 1, due to a lack of revenue in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), reimbursements to states will be provided every two weeks instead of the current twice daily schedule.  The USDOT announcement was made as the HTF nears insolvency.  When the fund’s reserves dip below $4 billion, as is expected on August 1, the department will alter its cash management in a way that they view as most prudent and equitable for the states.  “There is no good option when we’re talking about a trust fund that is running out of dollars,” Foxx told reporters Tuesday morning.  USDOT cites that on average states will see a 28 percent drop in federal transportation dollars due to delayed payments.  This piecemeal approach to reimbursements may put many current projects on hold, slow down the advertisement of new projects, or even cancel proposed projects.

The President and Administration officials have pledged to continue trying to help Congress identify a funding solution that can be signed into law by the August 1 deadline which is also when Congress adjourns for five weeks.  The Society has been urging Congress for months to identify a long-term, sustainable solution to fund the nation’s surface transportation program and avoid a summer program catastrophe.  The Society urges all members to tell their lawmakers to move quickly on a solution. Visit fixthetrustfund.org to learn more about how you can get involved

ASCE Reports: Pennsylvania has highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in country

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonLast week, four Sections of ASCE from across Pennsylvania released a new Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure giving 16 grades for the state’s key infrastructure areas. The Report Card gave 7 Ds, 6 Cs, and only 3 Bs showing the significant needs facing Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and highlighting the economic consequences of waiting to tackle these pressing issues. The release events across the state drew hundreds of people who want to see Pennsylvania’s infrastructure improve just as much as the team of over 50 experts who compiled the report.  Help us keep up the momentum by sharing this new and Report Card with those you know and work with in Pennsylvania!

Threats to Pavement Quality and a Solution…

Threats to Pavement QualityThreats to Pavement Quality2