Rural transportation system
requires more investment,
improved connectivity: study
Sep 17, 2010 10:33 AM
Rising congestion in popular tourist destinations, inadequate roads to serve growing agricultural and energy output, and emerging cities that are not connected to the Interstate system all require immediate attention and investment to ensure that America’s rural areas stay connected. Yet too often policy discussions overlook the need to improve connectivity mobility outside metropolitan areas.
According to Connecting Rural and Urban America, a new report released at news conferences in Little Rock AR and Wichita KS, more investment is needed in America’s rural transportation system to keep agriculture, new energy products, and freight moving; improve access for the travel, recreation, and tourism industries; connect new and emerging cities; and to ensure reliable access to key defense installations.
“Improving connectivity and mobility for the 60 million Americans who live in rural areas is just as important as improving mobility for those who live in metropolitan areas,” said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
The AASHTO report offers a three-point plan to ensure the connectivity of rural and urban America. In any reauthorization of federal transportation legislation:
1) Continue to fund rural portions of the Interstate Highway System and other federal-aid highways that connect America.
2) Double federal investment in rural transit systems to meet rising demand.
3) Expand the existing capacity of the Interstate system, upgrade rural routes to Interstate standards, and connect newly urbanized areas to the Interstate system.
Key findings from the report include:
•66 cities with populations of 50,000 or more—including one state capital—do not have immediate access to the Interstate system.
•During the next 30 years, 80% of the nation’s population growth is expected to concentrate in the South and West.
•In 2008, almost one out of eight people age 65 and older lived in rural areas. This elderly population exceeds 9.6 million people and relies heavily on rural roads and public transit systems for their transportation.
•Many of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations— including ski slopes, seashores, and national parks—experience significant traffic delays. Many of these destinations are not close to Interstate or National Highway System routes.
Go to http://ExpandingCapacity.transportation.org for more details and to see examples of rural capacity needs.
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.