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

KENTUCKY’S RURAL ROADS HAVE ONE OF HIGHEST TRAFFIC FATALITY RATES IN THE NATION; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO BOOST SAFETY, IMPROVE CONDITIONS & 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.

  State Rural Pavements in Poor Condition State Rural Bridges Poor/Structurally Deficient State Fatality Rate per 100M VMT on Rural Non-Interstate Roads Fatality Rate per 100M VMT on All Other Roads
1 Rhode Island 39% Rhode Island 23% South Carolina 3.60 0.98
2 California 32% Iowa 21% California 3.16 0.77
3 New Mexico 30% West Virginia 20% Arizona 2.94 1.31
4 West Virginia 30% Pennsylvania 18% Rhode Island 2.57 0.92
5 Hawaii 30% South Dakota 18% West Virginia 2.55 0.97
6 Oklahoma 30% Louisiana 15% Tennessee 2.55 0.93
7 Mississippi 27% Maine 14% Kentucky 2.54 1.02
8 Alaska 22% New York 12% Louisiana 2.48 1.21
9 Maine 22% North Carolina 12% Kansas 2.47 0.85
10 New Hampshire 21% Oklahoma 12% Oregon 2.44 0.68
11 Washington 21% Michigan 12% North Carolina 2.43 0.70
12 Pennsylvania 21% North Dakota 11% Texas 2.38 1.11
13 Missouri 21% Mississippi 10% Alabama 2.38 0.87
14 Connecticut 20% Alaska 10% Georgia 2.36 1.00
15 Louisiana 19% Nebraska 9% Virginia 2.34 0.57
16 Wisconsin 19% Missouri 9% Delaware 2.33 0.74
17 Texas 18% New Hampshire 9% Indiana 2.32 0.68
18 Massachusetts 17% Massachusetts 9% Oklahoma 2.24 0.86
19 Michigan 16% New Jersey 9% Florida 2.23 1.32
20 Vermont 16% California 9% Pennsylvania 2.18 0.79
US AVERAGE 15% US AVERAGE 9% US AVERAGE 2.14 0.88

The rate of traffic fatalities on Kentucky’s non-Interstate, rural roads is the seventh highest in the nation and is two-and-a-half times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state – 2.54 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 1.02. The report finds that 27 percent of Kentucky’s rural roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Seven percent of Kentucky’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.

“AAA members rely each and every day on our rural roads, bridges and transit systems. When these systems deteriorate, it not only frustrates our members in terms of time and vehicle maintenance, but too often these damaged and deteriorating roadways result in deadly crashes. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of fatal crashes on rural roads in the nation. It is time to act,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Kentucky’s AAA Blue Grass and AAA East Central both advocate for investments in critical safety improvements to roadways, which should save thousands of lives each year and bolster economies. Meeting travel demands of people and the movement of goods and services is essential to the progress and prosperity of Kentucky’s communities.”

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.

“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”

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.”