Missouri among top 20 states with deficient rural roads

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COLUMBIA - Missouri's rural roads need improvement, according to a report released Tuesday from TRIP, a national transportation research group.

Missouri ranks 15th in the country for percentage of rural pavement roads that are in poor condition and Missouri's rural bridges are the 10th most structurally deficient, the report said.

TRIP, based in Washington D.C., said 21 percent of Missouri's rural roads are in poor condition and 15 percent of Missouri's rural bridges are structurally deficient.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told TRIP, "Deteriorated and deficient rural roads and bridges are hindering our nation's agricultural goods from reaching markets at home and abroad and slowing the pace of economic growth in rural America."

The report comes as Missouri's legislature put a debate over MoDOT's budget deficiency on hold with the end of the legislative session Friday. MoDOT said earlier in the year it would have to reduce its construction budget significantly for improving Missouri's highway system.

Chief Engineer of MoDOT Ed Hassinger said they need money to match federal funds in order to create a program to maintain and improve roads and bridges.

"Every year we need about 485 million dollars on just to keep all the roads and bridges in the condition they are today," Hassinger said. "With our budget moving forward we're only going to have about 325 million."

Hassinger said the deficit will lead to roads worsening since they won't have sufficient funds to repair roads.

"Those roads are the lifeblood of a big part of our state for all things like economic development, for people to be able to live and work," Hassinger said. "It's important we have good, safe roads."

While organizations like TRIP call for an improvement to the country's rural roadways, one truck driver told KOMU 8 News Missouri's highways stack up well against the rest of the country.

"I've been to all 48 contiguous states right now and I'd say Missouri stands up quite well compared to the rest," truck driver Clint Trentman said. "It was a rough winter in most parts of the country. The freeze and thaw damages the roads and places like Tennessee and Arkansas right now are awful. They've actually closed certain lanes on I-40 just because of the potholes. They're so bad."

The report included 19 other states with poor rural road conditions. According to TRIP, Michigan had the highest percentage of rural roads in poor condition, Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of structurally deficient rural bridges and Connecticut had the highest fatality rate on rural roads.