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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

WISCONSIN’S RURAL ROADS AND BRIDGES HAVE HIGH RATES OF DEFICIENCIES; 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 Wisconsin have significant deficiencies. Nineteen percent of Wisconsin’s rural roads are rated in poor condition - the 16th highest rate in the nation - and 23 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Ten percent of Wisconsin’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, the 23rd highest rate in the nation. The rate of traffic fatalities on Wisconsin’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 1.29 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel – is more than double the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.

"Most timber grows in rural, less populated areas,” stated Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) Executive Director Henry Schienebeck.  “Producing and hauling raw forest products takes a well maintained rural road system.  Although efforts between local road maintenance officials and the timber industry have helped preserve pavement life with reduced axle loading and increased enforcement, many rural Wisconsin roads and bridges (including culverts) are well beyond their intended life cycle. This in turn is forcing local road officials to activate weight restrictions for posting local roads and causing a significant negative economic impact for our industry.”

“Without a strong transportation infrastructure of rural roads and bridges we handicap our farmers and agribusinesses,” said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. “We need a reliable system because transportation is the backbone of the agricultural community. Modern transportation systems are key to economic vitality and Wisconsin is in dire need of a long-term plan to help make that happen.”

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.

“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 Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin Director of Public Affairs for AAA - The Auto Club Group. “By investing in improvements for today and tomorrow, we can deliver safer experiences for motorists and save tens of thousands of lives.”

“It’s time for our elected leaders to act. Investing in our rural roads will improve safety and efficiency on roadways that are vital to agricultural commerce. That is a top priority for our nation’s 3.2 million farmers, and the 320,000 Americans whose jobs are supported by the manufacturing of farm equipment,” said Robert B. Crain, senior VP & general manager, North and South America, AGCO Corporation.

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.”