The U.S. Department of Transportation recently launched the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative, designed to address transportation needs in rural America.
Only one-fifth of Americans live in rural areas, yet 46 percent of traffic fatalities occur in rural parts, and 90 percent of bridges with posted weight limits are in these locations.
Also, more than 70 percent of road miles in the United States are in rural areas.
The department will analyze its discretionary funding and financing opportunities to ensure positive outcomes for rural communities’ transportation infrastructure. The department will do this by developing data-driven approaches to better assess needs and benefits of rural transportation projects and by helping rural stakeholders understand how to access grants and financing products.
The ROUTES Initiative builds on the Department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Loan Program’s Rural Project Initiative. To encourage using the program to address rural infrastructure projects, TIFIA offers lower project-cost thresholds for loan eligibility, subsidized interest rates, and the coverage of fees.
The department will hold events in 2020 to educate project stakeholders about funding and finance opportunities and to receive feedback.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the initiative at the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials’ annual meeting in St. Louis.