O’Halleran Introduces Rural Road Safety Legislation

April 14, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — This week, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) introduced H.R. 2481, the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act: bipartisan legislation that would direct federal roadway safety infrastructure funds to locally owned rural roads. He was joined by Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04).

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, the fatality rate on rural roads is two times greater than on non-rural roads. Additionally, local governments generally do not have the resources needed to make critical, lifesaving roadway safety infrastructure investments. 

“Rural Arizonans are forced to drive on some of the most dangerous, outdated roads in America, putting First District families at risk every day on their way to work and school,” said O’Halleran. “I’m proud to introduce this urgently-needed, bipartisan legislation that invests in the safety and economic growth of rural and tribal communities by providing the resources and funding necessary to complete critical high-risk rural road projects.” 

H.R. 2481 would create a $600 million competitive grant program that local governments could apply for, with the federal grant being funded at 100%. A specific $100 million set-aside is also included for tribal road safety. View text of the legislation HERE.

“As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Road Safety Caucus, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of bipartisan, commonsense solutions such as this,” said Westerman. “Rural infrastructure is a critical facet of economic growth and quality of life for those who live in rural and tribal communities. All Americans rely on safe roads to go about their daily lives, and in rural areas, dangerous roads often cannot be avoided. Investing in road safety has significant potential to save lives.”

The legislation has been endorsed by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the American Highway Users Alliance, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of County Engineers (NACE), and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). 

“Rep. O’Halleran’s and Rep. Westerman’s commitment to rural road safety is a testament to their leadership on the issues affecting rural Americans and tribal nations all across the country,” ATSSA President and CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “ATSSA applauds the introduction of HR 2481 and our 1,500 members look forward to working with Congress to ensure that roadway safety is the central focal point for federal transportation policy. We know that investments in roadway safety infrastructure projects like the ones in this legislation will certainly save lives and ATSSA is dedicated to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these members of Congress to reduce roadway fatalities toward zero.”

“Rural America and tribal roads must be part of the larger infrastructure discussion and Reps. O’Halleran and Westerman are leading that conversation,” ATSSA Vice President of Engagement, Nate Smith, said. “Rural transportation is critical for getting goods from farm to market, allowing tourists to travel to national parks and ensuring that families can drive their kids to school and activities safely every single day. These are not partisan issues and these two members of Congress are ensuring that bipartisanship for roadway safety investments continues to be the norm today.”