Study Finds Dangers With Rural Roads - KOAM TV 7

Study Finds Dangers With Rural Roads

COLUMBUS, KANSAS - Rural roads in Kansas are deteriorating, according to a report released Tuesday by national transportation research group, TRIP

"These are for roads and bridges maintained by local or state government," TRIP Dir. of Policy & Research Rocky Moretti said. "It's really just taking a close look at what's happening on Kansas' and the nation's rural roadways."

Nearly a third of the state's rural roads are in poor condition. The 5th-worst percentage in the nation.

It's a contributing factor to rural, non-interstate roads having a fatality rate roughly 4-times higher than all other roads.  

"I think we have the better roads in the state of Kansas," Cherokee County Commissioner Charles Napier said. He believes the report is more indicative of a problem state-wide. Not in Southeast Kansas.  

"I think Cherokee County, Crawford County, Bourbon [County], so on. I think we have some of the best rural roads in the state," Napier said. 

KDOT says while it doesn't compare itself to other states, 2014 did see a slight increase in roadside fatalities in the SEK.

"Last year in Southeast Kansas there were 60 fatalities. The 5 year average is 54," KDOT Public Information Officer Ann Williamson said. "So there was a 10% change from the 5-year average, last year."

Officials say it's not just a matter of road maintenance, but road design, which contributes to these numbers.

"Things like rumble strips, better lane markings, paving shoulders. These very simple safety improvements could go a long way to making kansas rural roads safer," Moretti said. 

Commissioner Napier says the best way citizens can take action is calling in dilapidated, or dangerous, roadways.

"I've got two-thirds of the county. And it's hard for me to get over it all the time. I try to do my best," Napier said. "And if I get a call from a farmer with a problem, I try to get out and take care of it. See what it is."

10% of Kansas rural bridges are found to be structurally deficient, which is in line with the national average. 

The complete report can be viewed HERE.

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