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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Report available at: tripnet.org

Contact: Rocky Moretti (202) 262-0714
Carolyn Bonifas Kelly (703) 801-9212
TRIP office (202) 466-6706

KANSAS’ RURAL ROADS HAVE ONE OF HIGHEST FATALITY RATES IN THE NATION; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO BOOST SAFETY, IMPROVE CONDITIONS & SUPPORT GROWTH & 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. 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 rate of traffic fatalities on Kansas’ non-Interstate, rural roads is the ninth highest in the nation and is nearly three times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state – 2.47 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.85. The report finds that 35 percent of Kansas’ rural roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Six percent of Kansas’ rural bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient. Bridges that are poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge and 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.

“The benefits of transportation infrastructure investment are well known when it comes to enhancing economic development, creating jobs, and attracting business to Kansas,” said Economic Lifelines Executive Director Scott Heidner. “This TRIP report is a welcome reminder that these investments also play a crucial role in the safety of Kansas citizens. Kansas has an excellent opportunity to improve our performance in these safety measures as we pursue a sustainable and aggressive funding package for transportation in the 2020 legislative session.”

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.

“An adequately sized and well-maintained surface transportation system is critical for moving goods and people safely through rural Kansas,” said Matt Allen, city manager of Garden City. “In southwest Kansas, we are fortunate to be experiencing a period of economic growth. However, if the movement of products and workers is compromised, our economic and personal health will be, too.”

“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 quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

“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.”

“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.”