Front Line: New DOT Focus on Rural Development
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Last October U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced a new initiative focusing on transportation and related development challenges in rural areas. The new effort was called ROUTES — Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success. ROUTES will build on two successful DOT discretionary grant programs, now called BUILD and INFRA (previously known as TIGER and FASTLANE, respectively). BUILD supports varied projects. INFRA has a freight focus.
Many rural communities, of course, have successfully competed for these grants. It’s DOT’s concern, however, that these individual successes don’t provide the far-reaching leverage necessary to deliver benefits across vast rural areas. In addition, many rural areas start a notch or two behind their urban counterparts and new funding may just be used for catch-up, not new investment.