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. According to a report released by TRIP today, 14 percent of North Carolina’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient, the 14th highest rate nationally. Just as alarming, North Carolina has the 13th highest traffic fatality rate on non-Interstate rural roads. In North Carolina, the traffic fatality rate is nearly four times higher on rural roads than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state. Read more in this state-specific press release.
As you know, Infrastructure and Growth Leadership is one of four key areas identified in North Carolina Vision 2030 where our state must strive for excellence in order to be a globally competitive economic force. This report underscores the critical nature of meeting the state’s need for safe and efficient mobility, as additional demands are placed on the current transportation system. As North Carolina’s population increases, we must invest in the future and continue to grow our economy – sufficient transportation infrastructure is key.
One critical source of funding for rural roads is the federal surface transportation program. As I shared with you earlier this week, the impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as this summer, when the balance in the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, triggering delays in the federal reimbursement to states for road, highway and bridge projects. While we are encouraged by recent negotiation progress, we urge Congress to act now to develop a long-term surface transportation bill.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber