Tags: elaine chao | transportation secretary | aid | rural areas

Transportation Sec. Chao: Rural Areas to Get More Aid

Transportation Sec. Chao: Rural Areas to Get More Aid

By    |   Monday, 02 December 2019 11:47 AM

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday that rural areas would now receive more federal funding for infrastructure improvements under a program that had long been biased toward urban areas.

"Rural America is not looking for a handout," Chao told Paul Bedard of The Washington Examiner. "They merely want not to be overlooked or discriminated against and to have their fair share in the distribution of federal resources."

Under the program, Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES), communities can apply directly to the U.S. Transportation Department for dollars for upgrading airports, roads and rail operations.

Historically, rural communities have received only 21% of as much as $8 billion in such funds — but at least half would now be earmarked in future years, Bedard reports.

Applications would be reviewed by a special council, Chao said, and the initial funds could come as early as next spring.

Chao first announced the initiative in St. Louis in October.

"The ROUTES initiative arose from increasing awareness of the tremendous inequities in resources devoted to urban versus rural America," she told Bedard. "Until recently, the Department of Transportation's discretionary infrastructure grant programs were severely skewed to urban areas.

"The disparity in resources has significant safety and economic ramifications," Chao continued. "Rural America comprises nearly 70% of roadways, and those carry 47% of America's truck traffic.

"Though only 20% of Americans reside in rural areas, 46% of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads," she said.

Iowa Transportation Director Mark Lowe said communities could use the funds as necessary, telling Bedard that his state could modernize bus systems and river lock systems to move goods.

"You can do a lot with that kind of money," he said.

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday that rural areas would now receive more federal funding for infrastructure improvements under a program that had long been biased toward urban areas.
elaine chao, transportation secretary, aid, rural areas
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2019-47-02
Monday, 02 December 2019 11:47 AM
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