Fourteen states will share in $14.7 million to improve the safety of rural roads in the U.S. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation announced the funding this week in a press conference in Mississippi.

“Making one road safer is important. But making rural roads around the country less deadly is absolutely essential,” said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Thomas J. Barrett. “Thanks to these funds, our rural roads are on their way to becoming as safe as they are beautiful.”

According DOT statistics, traffic fatalities on rural roads, which carry less than half of America’s traffic, in 2006 were 2.25 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled vs. just 0.93 on urban roadways. In response, the DOT launched the Rural Safety Initiative in February, backed by $287 million to help local and state governments reduce deadly crashes.

The largest single grants, each $1.9 million, went to the Louisiana and Mississippi DOTs. In Louisiana, the DOT will use the money for a rural intersection implementation plan while Mississippi plans a road departure crash countermeasure program.

Arkansas received $1.5 million for a cable median barrier on I-55 in Crittenden County and King County in Washington picked up just over $200,000 for curve warning and driver feedback signs. Other states received funds for traffic software improvements, speed management programs and a severe weather warning system for I-10 in Arizona.

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