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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

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 Pennsylvania have significant deficiencies. Twenty-two percent of Pennsylvania’s rural roads are rated in poor condition – the 8th highest rate in the nation - and 22 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Twenty-two percent of Pennsylvania’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, the 3rd highest rate in the nation. The rate of traffic fatalities on Pennsylvania’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 2.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel – is the 16th highest in the nation and is nearly three times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

“The passage of the transportation funding act in 2013 is helping Pennsylvania turn this situation around, in rural areas as well as the rest of the state,” said Jason Wagner, managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association. “Additionally, rural areas, in particular, are benefiting from PennDOT’s recycled asphalt program, which boosts our ability to address repaving needs on the commonwealth’s less traveled roads. We expect the numbers to improve in the future.”

“The overall condition of Pennsylvania’s rural roads and bridges are critical to public safety and our state’s economy. Despite serious budget challenges, Pennsylvanians have made a commitment to spend nearly $2.5 billion over five years to improve the Commonwealth’s transportation network, with a substantial amount of that funding dedicated to projects serving rural residents and businesses,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “Farmers across Pennsylvania understand and appreciate efforts to improve and repair rural roads and bridges, but state funding can only do so much. We are asking the federal government to do its part by making a serious financial commitment to fund road and bridge improvement projects in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”

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.

“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 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.  

“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 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.”