Rural roads and bridges are an essential component of the U.S. economy. They connect the country and support a network of product transportation that is vital to our nation. Despite its importance, America’s rural transportation network lacks the necessary funds for proper infrastructure maintenance.
The design of rural bridges and highways is often suited for lower-weight vehicles. However, due to the growing numbers and weight of freight trucks this rural infrastructure is in danger of rapid deterioration. Increased government investment into rural roads and bridges would benefit the United States’ economy and keep communities safely connected.
Why are Rural Roads so Important?
America Counts Staff research shows that the United States rural regions consist of nearly 97 percent of America’s landmass, the majority of which are dedicated to farming. As a result, America’s rural regions transport a sustainable pipeline of food, energy, and other products that aid the entirety of the U.S. economy.
Not only are the goods and services that these roads join vital, but the transportation network itself creates numerous job opportunities. Tourism is another beneficial aspect of rural transportation as rural roads provide access to tourist destinations such as national parks, outdoor recreational activities, and scenic vacations.
Connecting the U.S. with Rural Roads
As shown, the significance of rural roads is instrumental in the support of America’s stability and food supply. However, the volume of rural transportation has the potential for improvement. This improvement would allow for further capacity for economic growth with the construction of additional roads. According to a study from TRIP, a National Transportation Research Group, 66 U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System.
Rural transportation connectivity is indispensable for additional economic development and would provide a positive impact to rural residents. Due to the lack of connectivity, rural communities are affected by distance and limited access to medical facilities and emergency response services.
Safety Concerns on Rural Roads
As the number of jobs, population, and use of these rural highways increases, the roads are not able to meet the swell of demand. Many rural roads are two lanes and aren’t intended to carry the weight of heavy trucks or other vehicles.
According to a study from TRIP, 13 percent of America’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition. Nearly one out of 12 of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement. In addition, the same study also found that the amount of traffic accidents in rural regions are nearly double than those in urban areas.
Reasons that could attribute to these alarming numbers include narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, and exposed hazards. These features are common in rural infrastructure and require funding to incorporate desirable safety qualities.
Challenges with Funding
An increase in funds is essential in order to enhance the reliability and safety of these rural roads, highways,and bridges.
A United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) report shows that the nation’s annual expenditure for infrastructure should be increased by almost 28 percent. However, reaching this number will be challenging as the effects of COVID-19 reduces transportation revenue.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reports that state revenues are decreasing due to the pandemic. The reduction in vehicle usage triggers a decrease in gasoline tax, turnpike toll, vehicle rental, and sale tax collections, among others. As a result, states are revising their maintenance funding and road investments.
Let’s Build Rural Infrastructure
Rural roads and bridges are essential to the U.S. economy and businesses everywhere. With a quality rural infrastructure system, communities and businesses can stay connected.
U.S. Bridge has been serving communities for more than 80 years, building bridges that withstand time. Our bridge experts will advise you on the best option for your bridge. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can make your bridge project a long-lasting success.