Opinion - Missed Opportunity:  FHWA’s Infographic on the Importance of Rural Transportation

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Published Saturday, October 7, 2017
by Joe Kiely

On October 3, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published an article and infographic titled the "Importance of Rural Transportation" in its Tuesday Transportation release. The title grabbed our attention as advocates for rural transportation. Once it was pulled up on a computer, it was very disappointing that the infographic was created with a very narrow scope. While transit is certainly important to rural transportation, the narrow scope left major roles of rural transportation unaddressed.

The importance of rural transportation has a much larger scope. The rural transportation system is a significant portion of the National Highway Freight Network. Rural transportation provides connectors between urban areas with the corridors needed to move goods domestically and internationally to reach markets and consumers across the world. This includes rural portions of the interstate system, the national highway system, and state highways. Rural transportation corridors connect manufacturers and value-added goods with consumers like you and me.

The rural transportation system connects the nation's natural resources largely available in rural areas to consumers within urban areas. Food, fiber and fuel are developed and moved from rural areas to urban areas by rural transportation corridors. Be it agriculture, conventional energy or renewable energy, the products and the people developing and producing those resources rely upon a robust, safe rural transportation system.

Rural communities rely economically on the rural transportation system for their economic vitality. A deteriorating rural transportation system is a sign of long-term rural economic problems.

As a great nation, with a wealth of opportunities to enjoy national parks, national monuments, and thousands of other sites in rural America that people wish to visit and enjoy, it is the rural transportation system that allows them to drive to the jewels. The rural transportation system must safely move these tourists alongside the moving of freight, oversize/overweight/overheight loads, and agriculture equipment.

The rural transportation system is a key component of everyone's day as they consume food, use energy, and travel across the country. The rural transportation system is important to everyone, whether they live within a large city or a rural area.

The original posting by FHWA is available here. (https://www.transportation.gov/transportation-tuesday/importance-rural-transportation)

Ports-to-Plains is a grassroots alliance of over 275 communities and businesses, including alliance partners Heartland Expressway, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Coalition, whose mission is to advocate for a robust international transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America's energy and agricultural heartland including Mexico to Canada. Additional information on the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is available at http://www.portstoplains.com/.