Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES)
The Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative prioritizes the needs of rural America by supporting rural transportation policy and equitable access for rural and Tribal communities that face challenges relating to transportation safety, mobility, and economic development. The ROUTES Initiative addresses disparities in rural transportation infrastructure by developing user-friendly tools and information, aggregating DOT resources, and providing direct technical assistance to better connect rural communities with the funding, financing, and outreach resources available.
Toolkits and online information sources are available to help applicants access grant funds. Read our newly released Rural EV Infrastructure Toolkit, which was developed to help rural communities scope, plan, and fund electric mobility infrastructure.
ROUTES Supports Rural Communities
The ROUTES Initiative supports rural stakeholders through a comprehensive approach that includes:
- Engaging Rural Communities to better understand their transportation needs and work together to identify solutions.
- Harmonizing DOT Programs to best support rural mobility using the ROUTES Council to lead Departmental activities and better align new and existing funding, financing, and technical assistance programs with the needs of rural and Tribal communities.
- Utilizing a Whole-of-Government Approach by partnering with other federal agencies, initiatives, and regional commissions to expand the Department’s presence in rural America, better promote resources, and capitalize on synergies between federal funding programs.
The ROUTES Council Guides the Initiative
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law instructed DOT to reconvene the ROUTES Council to organize, guide, and lead the ROUTES Initiative. The ROUTES Council ensures the needs of rural communities remain a priority throughout the Department. Chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Transportation and comprised of Departmental leadership, the ROUTES Council meets bi-monthly to coordinate ongoing activities and establish future priorities.
The Rural Transportation Network is Critical for Our Economy
Rural and Tribal communities are key to our nation’s economic competitiveness and well-being, but they face significant transportation challenges that impede their safety, mobility, and economic development.
Rural roads account for a significant proportion of total lane miles in the United States, and they play a significant role in our nation’s transportation system by safely moving people and goods to their destinations. However, rural areas face several transportation challenges relating to safety, usage, and infrastructure condition.
- While only 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, 45% of all roadway fatalities and 34% of all public highway-rail grade crossing fatalities occur on rural roads.
- The fatality rate on rural roads is 2 times higher than on urban roads.
Rural transportation networks support domestic production, transport, and export of agriculture, mining, and energy commodities, as well as the quality of life for all Americans.
- Two-thirds of rail freight originates in rural areas, and nearly half of all truck vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) occur on rural roads.
- Ninety percent of posted (limited weight) bridges are in rural areas – meaning that heavy trucks hauling in rural areas must traverse three-times the distance as in metro areas to find a safe bridge.
Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management, Highway Statistics 2020, Table HM-60; United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 5-Year Estimates, 2020. Notes: For ACS population estimates, urban = Census urbanized area, 2010, rural otherwise; for FHWA Highway Statistics, urban = FHWA adjusted urbanized areas, 2010, rural otherwise; all statistics include Puerto Rico but do not include the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management, Highway Statistics 2020, Table VM-1; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2020. Notes: Urban = FHWA adjusted urbanized areas, 2010, rural otherwise; all statistics include Puerto Rico but do not include US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.