login | about us | contact us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           Contact: Rocky Moretti (202) 262-0714 (cell) 
JUNE 27, 2017 AT 6:00 A.M. EDT                             Carolyn Bonifas Kelly (703) 801-9212          
Report available at:
tripnet.org                                TRIP office (202) 466-6706

IDAHO’S RURAL ROADS AND BRIDGES HAVE HIGH RATES OF DEFICIENCIES; STATE’S RURAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN NEED OF MODERNIZATION TO BETTER SUPPORT ECONOMIC GROWTH AND CONNECTIVITY
Eds: This report contains data for all 50 states for the percentage of rural roads in poor condition, the percent of deficient rural bridges, rural traffic fatality rates and the number of rural traffic fatalities. Click here for infographics.

Washington, D.C. – 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. Rural America is home to an aging and increasingly diverse population that is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP. 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 improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. TRIP is a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of structurally deficient rural bridges and those with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads. 

The report finds that rural roads and bridges in Idaho have significant deficiencies. Fourteen percent of Idaho’s rural roads are rated in poor condition – the 21st highest rate in the nation- and 24 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Ten percent of Idaho’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, the 20th highest rate in the nation. The rate of traffic fatalities on Idaho’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 1.64 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel – is more than one and a half times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

“The poor condition of Idaho’s roads continues to have a real impact on all of us regardless of where you live or how you make a living,” said Anne Little Roberts, president of the Idaho Chamber Alliance and CEO of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce.  “Idaho’s farmers have been blessed with bumper crops the last few years, but these commodities must travel miles of roads that are in poor condition and across structurally deficient bridges to reach the processing facilities that in turn export Idaho’s bounty to the rest of the world. Tourism is the 3rd largest industry in Idaho, with over 3.4 billion in revenue.  Many of Idaho’s destinations are reached by these same roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair.  While a lot of attention has been paid to the interstate system, this report highlights the continued need across rural Idaho as well.”

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 system 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. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

The traffic fatality rate on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads is approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. The number of fatalities and the fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate U.S. roads increased in 2105 after decreasing each year between 2012 and 2014. "Rural roads are far too often overlooked. With fatality rates rising, repairing and maintaining the nation's roads must be a top priority for legislators," said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. "By investing in improvements for today and tomorrow, we can deliver safer experiences for motorists and save tens of thousands of lives."

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 quality of life and enhance economic productivity.  The nation’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges will 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.  

“We applaud the president, the new administration, and members of Congress for leading the conversation on an issue of critical importance to our 21st century economy: rebuilding America's infrastructure,” said U.S. Chamber’s Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “The American business community looks forward to developing and implementing a long-term plan that will bring our nation's rural and urban infrastructure up to speed and spur economic growth. Now is the time to take action and to get the job done.

“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. The nation’s 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.”