FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Report available at: tripnet.org
NEBRASKA’S RURAL BRIDGES AMONG MOST DETERIORATED IN U.S.; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & 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|
|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|
|US AVERAGE||15%||US AVERAGE||9%||US AVERAGE||2.14||0.88|
Nine percent of Nebraska’s rural bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient, the 15th highest share in the U.S. 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. The report finds that 20 percent of Nebraska’s rural roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. The rate of traffic fatalities on Nebraska’s non-Interstate, rural roads is two-and-a-half times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state – 1.69 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.67.
“The Transportation Innovation Act and the County Bridge Match Program are transforming rural infrastructure,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “In three short years, the Nebraska Department of Transportation has made significant progress on this important priority. The Program has helped replace or repair 200 Structurally deficient bridges while also requiring an innovation element from counties which broadens the impact and supported counties as they replaced or repaired an additional 160 bridges.”
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.
“As a Nebraska manufacturer, our state’s rural roads and bridges are vital to keeping our supply chain and distribution networks moving efficiently and safely,” said Leif Magnusson, president of CLAAS Global Sales Americas. “Our state has made maintaining and modernizing rural infrastructure a top priority because it is essential in keeping our manufacturing and agricultural industries strong. Now is the time for the federal government to do its part and do the same.”
“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of millions of Americans every day,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act. Making critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”
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.”