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Maintenance and Upkeep of Transportation Routes, Vehicles, and Facilities

Regular maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment, as well as performing repairs on the overall system are necessary parts of implementing transportation programs. The terrain and environment in rural areas, and the long distances that many routes span, make maintenance even more important to ensure a smooth operating system.

Money should be allocated for maintenance and repairs when planning to start a new program. Vehicles will also require regular safety inspections. Some of the factors that can impact the timing and cost of maintenance include:

  • Type of transit system
  • Conditions of the roads
  • Environmental factors and weather
  • Economic factors and cost of repairs
  • Type of vehicle/equipment and age of equipment

The condition of rural roads is essential to the operation of transportation programs and is increasingly a challenge as more roads are deteriorating without regular maintenance. As of 2015, it was estimated that close to 15% of major rural roads in America were considered in poor condition, and another 38% of roads were considered to be in only fair or mediocre condition. The majority of these roads need structural fixes and/or total replacement. Rural bridges are in a similar state, with approximately one in five in need of repair.

The conditions of rural roads differ throughout the country, with some states experiencing an increased need for maintenance of rural roads and interstates. For example, approximately half of the rural interstate roads considered in “poor-condition” are located in five states. These states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington, and Indiana. Many factors contribute to differing maintenance costs around the country as well, including local climate, terrain, state budgets, as well as the overall volume of traffic on the roads. Interestingly, states with some of the best roads are located in several rural states that tend to have the least amount of traffic and overall road congestion.

Resources to Learn More

Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America's Heartland
This document summarizes challenges and opportunities related to transportation in rural U.S. It describes the transportation infrastructure in the country, changes in use and capacity of rural networks, and how roads and highways are at the center of rural life and the economy.
Organization(s): TRIP
Date: 5/2019