Rural communities are the life blood of our great nation. Here at USDA we work every day to make sure that rural Americans have access to programs that help them create opportunity across America's small towns and communities.
Tomorrow, I will sit down with the members of the White House Rural Council to discuss ways we can continue to address the many unique challenges facing rural America. Today, in advance of our meeting, I am pleased to highlight an effort by the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen one of the key objectives of the White House Rural Council by increasing access to dependable transportation in rural communities across 23 states.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explains more about this effort in a blog from the U.S. Department of Transportation Blog:
By Anthony Foxx, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Wherever you live--a big city, a small community, wherever--you should have safe, reliable access to jobs, schools, medical care, and stores. And wherever you operate your business--whether that business is a family farm or a manufacturing plant--you should be able to move your goods to the market.
America will be defined as a nation by whether we can connect every citizen --rural or urban-- to the 21st Century economy.
That's why, when it came time to award DOT's fifth round of TIGER grants, I was proud to announce that nearly half of the projects selected support rural areas of the country--and that's our biggest rural share to date.
In total, 25 rural transportation projects in 23 states will receive $123.4 million. And not only will these projects give residents of rural communities more dependable transportation options; they will also create jobs and help businesses grow.
In an isolated community, adding or improving a single transportation asset can make a critical difference. In a one-road town, that road is an absolute lifeline. For a remotely located business, an upgraded rail depot means the possibility of reaching new markets. That can mean growth; it can mean hiring new workers.
One such grant will allow Winneshiek County, Iowa to repair a main road in a rural area while also creating a modern, multi-modal roadway that supports healthy living, downtown vibrancy, economic development, and connectivity. The project provides what President Obama calls a "ladder of opportunity" by directly serving community members, including residents in multi-unit apartments, mobile home parks, single-family homes, and senior housing.
TIGER funds will also be used to resurface a section of Highway 92 and replace two weight-restricted bridges along the section in north central Arkansas, where traffic has increased significantly over the last few years. Improving this corridor and removing the restrictions for use will provide increased employment opportunities for rural residents, as well as a reliable and efficient transportation system for the natural gas, timber, and agricultural industries in the region, allowing these industries to grow and support new jobs.
A unique project receiving TIGER funds will pave almost three miles of gravel streets and dirt roads in the Village of Alakanuk, Alaska. These repairs will improve mobility and quality of life in the village by making drainage improvements and reducing the dust that has been coating the fish that area residents dry in the sun. In addition, the project will connect residents to the primary economic hubs of the community, including the village store, tribal and city offices, and the Alakanuk health clinic.
DOT is proud to deliver the support these projects and 22 others that will help rural residents get where they need to go safely and reliably while boosting local economic development. That's the power of transportation investment; that's the power of TIGER.
Anthony Foxx is the 17th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.