Report highlights need for rural road improvement

In 2012 22 percent of Washington’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition -- the 12th-highest rate nationally.

This is one of the findings of a recently released report Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland by national transportation research group TRIP. The report finds that the nation’s rural transportation system which is critical to the nation’s booming agriculture energy and tourism sectors is in need of modernization to address deficient roads and bridges high crash rates and inadequate connectivity and capacity.

As this report makes clear the failure of Congress and the Administration to adequately fund repairs to our aging network of roads and bridges is having an even worse impact on our rural roads than the rest of our transportation system” said AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr. “And while these rural roads may not be the ones most commuters use on a daily basis they play a vital role in assuring the movement of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural energy and manufacturing products every day. Neglecting our rural road network needlessly risks lives and forces shipping delays that inflate the cost of fuel groceries and countless other essential consumer products.”

The TRIP report also found that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural roads in Washington are significantly higher than all other roads in the state. In 2012 non-Interstate rural roads in Washington State had a traffic-fatality rate of 1.97 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel -- more than four times greater than the fatality rate on all other roads in Washington of 0.45 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.