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Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES)

Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) is an initiative to address disparities in rural transportation infrastructure. Specifically, rural transportation infrastructure’s unique challenges need to be considered in order to meet our Nation’s priority transportation goals of safety and economic competitiveness.

 

The ROUTES Initiative is...

  • Engaging with stakeholders through listening sessions, requests for information (RFIs), and other events to gather feedback on rural infrastructure project needs and challenges
  • Collecting data and analyzing trends to better assess needs and benefits of rural transportation infrastructure projects, particularly related to enhancing safety and sparking economic growth in rural communities
  • Providing user-friendly information and technical assistance to assist stakeholders in understanding funding opportunities and applying for USDOT discretionary grants

The Rural Transportation Network is Critical for Our Economy

  • Rural transportation networks are critically important for domestic production 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.   These industries require heavy trucks that create significantly more wear-and-tear on roadways. 
  • Ninety percent of posted (limited weight) bridges are in rural areas and heavy trucks cannot cross posted bridges – to find a safe bridge, heavy trucks hauling in rural areas must traverse three-times the distance as in metro areas.  
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, safely moving people and goods to their destinations. However, rural areas face several transportation challenges relating to safety, usage, and infrastructure condition.
Graphic listing rural transportation statistics. 19% of Americans live in rural areas but 68% of our nation's total lane miles are in rural areas. Urban areas: 1,052 miles per 100,000 residents. Rural areas: 9,818 lane miles per 100,000 residents.

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management, Highway Statistics, table HM-60, available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics.cfm; United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 5-Year Estimates, 2018.

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, and the fatality rate on rural roads is 2 times higher than on urban roads.

Fatality Rate Per 100 Million Vehicle-Miles Traveled is 2 times greater in rural areas. Rural=1.68 Urban= 0.86. 45% of highway fatalities occur on rural roads. Rural= 16,411 Urban= 19,498. 34% of fatalities at public highway-rail grade crossings occur in rural areas. 80% of railroad crossings without active warning devices are found in rural areas.

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Annual Vehicle Distance Traveled in Miles and Related Data, 2017-2018; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2018.


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Last updated: Thursday, February 11, 2021