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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

OKLAHOMA’S RURAL ROADS AND BRIDGES HAVE HIGH RATES OF DEFICIENCIES AND FATALITIES; 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 Oklahoma have significant deficiencies. Twenty-two percent of Oklahoma’s rural roads are rated in poor condition – the 10th highest rate in the nation - and 26 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of Oklahoma’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, the 7th highest rate in the nation. The rate of traffic fatalities on Oklahoma’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 2.21 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel – is the 22nd highest in the nation and nearly two and a half times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

“When rural Oklahoma thrives, the state thrives, as our two largest industries are based in rural Oklahoma,” said Tom Buchanan, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “Yet our roads, bridges and water infrastructure are failing. Oklahoma alone faces more than $82 billion in water infrastructure needs over the next 50 years. Securing both state and federal infrastructure funding is crucial to furthering the rural economy.”

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.

“These numbers should be alarming to all Oklahomans and serve as a reminder to the Oklahoma Legislature to adequately fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation,” said Chuck Mai, Vice President, Public Affairs, Oklahoma AAA.  “There’s no doubt ODOT does all it can to prioritize and stretch the dollars it’s allocated and while the state has experienced serious budget deficits recently due to the low price of oil, the need for increased money for roads and bridges has never been more urgent. Commerce will benefit, certainly, but more than that, lives in rural Oklahoma will be saved and injuries will be prevented.”

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.”