WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee and leaders of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freights, and Ports, introduced bipartisan legislation that would help rural communities, Native American tribes, and underserved communities in rural or tribal areas better compete for federal transportation resources. The legislation would authorize the ROUTES Initiative at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT):

“Rural and tribal areas in Nebraska and states across the country have critical infrastructure needs, but accessing the necessary resources for these projects can be difficult. The ROUTES Act is common-sense, bipartisan legislation which will help ensure rural transportation projects are competitive when applying for the resources they need, benefiting families, communities and businesses,” said Senator Fischer. 

“As we become increasingly interconnected, it is vital more than ever that Michigan’s rural communities have access to the resources needed to upgrade roads, bridges, airports and other critical infrastructure. I’m pleased to introduce bipartisan legislation that will better ensure that rural communities – as well as federally recognized tribes – can access federal transportation resources to strengthen their economies and access new markets,” said Senator Peters.

"Heartland Expressway Association supports Senator Fischer’s efforts to continue the existence of the ROUTES program.  HEA is always interested in seeing the federal government carve out programs that serve rural America. Safe highways are critical to the continued movement of people and goods. As part of the Ports to Plains Alliance, we agree that the movement of food, fiber and fuel north and south is best facilitated by assisting states to build that system. If ROUTES can help us with best practices and samples of successful grant application language, we will be pleased to access it,” said Deb Cottier, Chairperson of the Heartland Expressway Association.

“The ROUTES Act strengthens rural America’s ability to be competitive in securing Federal resources to complete critical transportation projects that will improve safety and drive economic competitiveness in all parts of the country,” said Brandye Hendrickson, Deputy Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

“Nebraska is mostly a rural and agricultural state and we welcome the ROUTES Act to help level the competitive grant process,” said the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

More information: 

The ROUTES Act would codify the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative. The program, first implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2019, would require DOT to take steps to better understand rural and tribal transportation infrastructure needs. The bill would also support rural and tribal communities by ensuring they can receive technical assistance to meet their transportation infrastructure investment needs.

Similar legislation was introduced by Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.) in the House.