HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut has the second worst rural transportation system in the country, according to a new report released this week.
The report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, shows that Connecticut’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies.
Thirty-nine percent of Connecticut’s rural roads are rated in poor condition. Only Rhode Island with a rating of 41 percent of roads in poor condition, is rated worse than Connecticut.
Other ratings are equally alarming in the report: 34 percent of Connecticut’s rural roads are rated in mediocre condition; 8 percent of the state’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient.
Additionally, the rate of traffic fatalities on rural roads in Connecticut — 1.45 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel — is nearly double the fatality rate on all other roads in the rest of of Connecticut.
“It is not like public transportation is an option for those who live outside our urban centers,” Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford said. “Connecticut’s rural roads must be adequately maintained — and safe.
“With fatal crashes up sharply, and, according to TRIP, so many of these crashes happening on rural roads, improvements must be made sooner rather than later,” Parmenter said.
Authors of the report said bad rural roads are also bad economic policy.
“Crumbling bridges, poorly maintained roads, and congested highways discourage travel, threatening the entire U.S. economy,” Eric Hansen, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association, said.
The TRIP report said the nation’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges will be greatly enhanced if Congress is able to provide a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream capable of fully funding the federal surface transportation program.
“The safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas and the health of the nation’s economy ride on our rural transportation system,” Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP said.
“The nation’s rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” Wilkins said.
The recently concluded General Assembly session spent a lot of time talking about funding for the state’s deteriorating highway system. The House and Senate passed a resolution calling for a constitutional lockbox for funds earmarked for these types of transportation projects, but it will first have to win the approval of voters in 2018.
If it’s approved by the voters, it will be ratified into the state constitution.
The lockbox was necessary in order to win Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s approval for increasing any revenue streams earmarked for improving transportation. Malloy has said he won’t support additional revenue for transportation until a constitutional lockbox is in place.
The conversation during the session was focused mostly on the highway system, not the state’s rural roads.