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Vermont Gets Mediocre Grades For Rural Road Conditions

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Miriam Honsacker
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Mud goops up a Putney road in April. According to a newn report, 21 percent of Vermont's major rural roads were in poor condition in 2012, the 15th highest rate in the nation.

If you live and drive in rural Vermont, you probably already know that some roads are in disrepair, and may even be unsafe.  Take heed — but take comfort, too, because a new report shows that Vermont’s rural byways are not the worst in the northeast. 

The report was released by a national transportation research group called TRIP:

“In 2012, 21 percent of Vermont’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition, the 15th highest rate in the nation. In 2013, ten percent of Vermont’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient. The traffic fatality rate on Vermont’s rural roads was 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, nearly double the fatality rate of 0.70 fatalities on all other roads in the state.”

But other northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, fare much worse in the report.

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Credit USDA
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A USDA map shows population change in the United States.

The report also includes a map showing that Vermont is losing population, while in some western states, rural population is growing, in part due to the energy boom.

But even in sparsely populated states like Vermont, where agriculture and tourism form an economic backbone, the report’s authors say poor or unsafe roads can be a hurdle to prosperity. They recommend relatively low-cost safety improvements, including rumble strips, clearer signage, better lighting, more turning lanes and, where financially feasible, resurfacing.

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