Some policy Goals
- Build capacity to support local engagement in planning, decision-making and resource allocation
- Decisions about transportation priorities and approaches should be made as locally as possible, although there should be consistency with regional and national priorities.
- Regional intermediaries, such as regional and tribal planning organizations, should be given the standing and resources to act in an effort to achieve this outcome, especially for low-capacity rural and tribal areas, between local communities and state departments of transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Regulations should require consultation and engagement with diverse interests at the local level.
- High growth exurban areas should be encouraged to pursue integrated planning to better balance conflicts between new infrastructure development and environmental/community protection.
Encourage innovation and integration for effective rural transportation outcomes
- Resources and incentives should be available for innovative solutions to transportation challenges at the community and regional level.
- Telecommunications and smart technologies may have particular payoff in terms of road safety, health, education, transit integration.
- Priority should be given to finding ways of overcoming inferior access to emergency medical care.
- Emphasis should be on the potential for multi-modal infrastructure – creating integrated freight and passenger systems wherever possible across highways, transit, rail, air, and water.
- The concept of “sustainable transportation” should be given greater consideration, as a potential vehicle for intentionally integrating economic, social and environmental objectives.
Shift resources, where appropriate, to address the most pressing rural needs and opportunities
- Resource allocation should be related to the specific needs and characteristics of rural communities – not on a “one size fits all” basis – precise rural definitions are less important than recognizing the spectrum of rural needs and possibilities.
- Transportation funding and planning should be measured against outcomes rather than uniform standards.
- Emphasis should be less on large-scale projects (unless justified by clear regional or national priorities) and more on local upgrades and repair tied to coordinated plans for land use and economic development, and consistent with triple-bottom-line objectives. (Small federal transportation investments in rural regions can make a huge relative difference.)
- Heavy truck routes through rural areas should be defined and improved, with additional resources available to counties for repair and maintenance on these routes.
Create integrated regional planning and implementation
- Rural transportation should be part of rural regional innovation efforts integrating issues of economic development, education, health, housing, telecommunications, environment, and energy. This should be an integral component of ongoing federal efforts to achieve higher levels of inter-agency collaboration within federal government, and between levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors.
Support greater attention to rural placemaking through quality of life investments
- Safety on rural roads should be a major priority, exploring traffic calming, improved road design, maintenance and signage, speed restrictions and enforcement.
- Livability and walkability concepts are not just for the big cities; they apply also to small towns, where the absence of sidewalks, heavy through traffic, and poor lighting and road design make walking and cycling difficult and dangerous.
- Effective transit should be recognized as a critical component of rural quality of life, particularly for people with disabilities, elderly, young people, poor households, and people without access to a car. Innovation should be encouraged to achieve reasonable cost solutions to mobility in low-density areas.