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ATSSA endorses rural road safety legislation introduced in the House

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced H.R. 2481, the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan proposal, which is strongly supported by ATSSA, would direct federal roadway safety infrastructure funds to locally owned rural roads.

The fatality rate on rural roads is two times greater than on non-rural roads, according to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistics.  Additionally, local governments generally do not have the resources needed to make critical, lifesaving roadway safety infrastructure investments.

H.R. 2481, which was introduced late Tuesday, would create a $600 million competitive grant program that local governments could apply for, with the federal grant being funded at 100%. A specific $100 million set-aside is also included for tribal road safety.

In addition to ATSSA, the American Highway Users Alliance, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of County Engineers (NACE) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) endorsed the legislation.

“Rep. O’Halleran’s and Rep. Westerman’s commitment to rural road safety is a testament to their leadership on the issues affecting rural Americans and tribal nations all across the country,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “ATSSA applauds the introduction of HR 2481 and our 1,500 members look forward to working with Congress to ensure that roadway safety is the central focal point for federal transportation policy. We know that investments in roadway safety infrastructure projects like the ones in this legislation will certainly save lives and ATSSA is dedicated to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these members of Congress to reduce roadway fatalities toward zero.”

The Act spells out 20 categories of road projects that would qualify for funding.

  1. A road safety audit.
  2. An intersection safety improvement.
  3. Installation of rumble strips or another warning device, if the rumble strips or other warning devices do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians and the disabled.
  4. An improvement for pedestrian or bicyclist safety or safety of the disabled.
  5. Construction of a railway-highway crossing safety feature, including installation of protective devices.
  6. Construction of a traffic calming feature.
  7. Improvement of highway signage and pavement markings, including to meet minimum levels of retroreflectivity established by the Department of Transportation.
  8. Installation of a priority control system for emergency vehicles at signalized intersections.
  9. Installation of a traffic control or other warning device at a location with high accident potential.
  10. Installation of guardrails, barriers (including barriers between construction work zones and traffic lanes for the safety of motorists and workers), and crash attenuators.
  11. The addition or retrofitting of structures or other measures to eliminate or reduce accidents involving vehicles and wildlife.
  12. Installation and maintenance of signs (including fluorescent, yellow-green signs) at pedestrian-bicycle crossings and in school zones.
  13. Installation of a skid-resistant surface at any intersection or other location with a high frequency of accidents.
  14. Improvement of an edge drop-off that is greater than 4 inches.
  15. Spot pavement and shoulder widening.
  16. Elimination of a roadside obstacle.
  17. Systemic improvements focusing on low-cost safety infrastructure investments.
  18. Traffic enforcement or other activities relating to work zone safety.
  19. Installation of vehicle-to-infrastructure communication equipment.
  20. Installation or improvement of highway signage and pavement markings to accommodate advanced technologies to assist with the deployment of automated and connected vehicles.

 

Westerman serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Road Safety Caucus and said he is “proud to be an original cosponsor of bipartisan, common sense solutions such as this.”

“Rural infrastructure is a critical facet of economic growth and quality of life for those who live in rural and tribal communities,” Westerman added.  “All Americans rely on safe roads to go about their daily lives, and in rural areas, dangerous roads often cannot be avoided. Investing in road safety has significant potential to save lives.”

O’Halleran noted the needs, especially in  the Arizona district he represents.

“Rural Arizonans are forced to drive on some of the most dangerous, outdated roads in America, putting First District families at risk every day on their way to work and school,” O’Halleran said. “I’m proud to introduce this urgently needed, bipartisan legislation that invests in the safety and economic growth of rural and tribal communities by providing the resources and funding necessary to complete critical high-risk rural road projects.”

ATSSA Vice President of Engagement Nate Smith, the Association’s leader for advocacy on Capitol Hill, voiced his support for the proposal.

“Rural America and tribal roads must be part of the larger infrastructure discussion and Reps. O’Halleran and Westerman are leading that conversation,” Smith said. “Rural transportation is critical for getting goods from farm to market, allowing tourists to travel to national parks and ensuring that families can drive their kids to school and activities safely every single day. These are not partisan issues and these two members of Congress are ensuring that bipartisanship for roadway safety investments continues to be the norm today.”

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