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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

NEW MEXICO’S RURAL ROADS AMONG MOST DETERIORATED IN U.S.; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & 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 report finds that 30 percent of New Mexico’s rural roads are rated in poor condition, the third highest share in the U.S. Twenty-five percent of the state’s rural roads are in mediocre condition. Six percent of New Mexico’s 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 New Mexico Legislature and the New Mexico Department of Transportation have historically met with challenges to identify funding for our rural communities. This past legislative cycle provided a potential game change in addressing these needs. NMDOT Secretary Michael Sandoval and I worked collaboratively with staff and members of the House Transportation and Public Works Committee to introduce House Bill 694 which created the Local Government Transportation Project Fund,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricio Ruiloba, chair of the House Transportation and Public Works Committee. “The fund contains appropriations from the Legislature and non-state funds for construction of local government road projects. This includes highways, streets, roadways, bridges, crossing structures and parking facilities, including all areas for vehicular use for travel, ingress, egress and parking. To address the needs of our rural communities, HB694 provides project grants up to 95 percent of project costs for selected projects, but may grant up to 100 percent of project costs should the local government obtain a hardship waiver. The collaborative vision is a new beginning for New Mexico to support local communities, provide for safe road conditions, create statewide construction jobs, boost economic development and beautify our rural areas.”

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.

“The importance of New Mexico’s transportation infrastructure to our statewide economy cannot be overstated. Particularly in the rural areas, our dependence on a modern and efficient network of highways, roads and bridges is critical to ensuring safe, reliable mobility for the motoring public, commerce and visitors to our state,” said New Mexico State Representative Patricia Lundstrom, chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. “If we are to support and maintain a healthy economy across New Mexico, we must continue to invest in our aging roadway system in order to remain competitive with other states in our region.”

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.”