U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced a Request for Information (RFI) to receive feedback from the public and stakeholders on rural transportation needs and opportunities. The RFI is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative.
“We want to hear from rural communities how the Department of Transportation can better support their critical transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “In addition to the data and experience DOT already has, the ROUTES Council will review and use public input to guide the evaluation of rural projects and improve funding options,” said Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Joel Szabat. Rural communities and their transportation networks are critical for the success of the American economy. They are instrumental in building and supplying essential goods to all communities across our Nation.
Yet rural transportation infrastructure has significant challenges. Although only one-fifth of Americans live in rural America, traffic fatalities are disproportionately high on rural roadways, totaling 46% of fatalities in 2018. Maintaining the large network of rural roads – which comprise 70% of America’s road miles – is challenging for rural communities who have significantly strained financial resources. The new ROUTES Initiative addresses these national transportation challenges by assisting rural stakeholders to better understand how to access DOT grants and financing products and developing data-driven approaches to assess needs and benefits of rural transportation projects. Secretary Chao established a Departmental Order that created a new internal deliberative body at the Department, the ROUTES Council, to oversee the Initiative. It is led by the Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy and is comprised of DOT leadership including Administrators of modes across DOT.
The RFI seeks input on concerns with rural infrastructure safety, condition, and usage, as well as stakeholders’ experiences using DOT discretionary grant and finance programs. To learn more about the ROUTES Initiative, visit www.transportation.gov/rural.