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

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 10 percent of South Carolina’s rural roads are rated in poor condition and 26 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Eleven percent of South Carolina’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, the 18th highest rate in the nation. The rate of traffic fatalities on South Carolina’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 3.82 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel –is the highest in the nation and nearly four times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

“South Carolina’s rural roads are the deadliest in the country, a result of decades of deferred infrastructure investment. This legislative session, however, SC lawmakers approved an increase to the state’s motor fuel user fee for the first time since 1987. SCDOT now has the means to begin repairing dangerous rural roadways where approximately 58% of traffic fatalities occur,” said Bill Ross, president of the SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads. “While state funding has increased, South Carolina still requires additional federal resources to meet the needs of our growing transportation system.”

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.

"When people hear the word "rural," they often think of secondary roads, but most of the traffic is actually on rural primaries and Interstates,” said Tiffany Wright, president of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. “With a new funding stream provided by the state legislature in 2017, SCDOT has announced a new Rural Roads Safety Program.  We applaud the legislature and the department for taking this long overdue step.  We understand it will take time, but hopefully South Carolina is now on the right track to reduce traffic fatalities for all highway users."

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.

“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.”