North Dakota, New Mexico, Kansas and South Carolina are the best; New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Alaska are the worst; Delaware and Michigan show most improvement
Since 1984, per-mile total disbursements on state highways have increased by 262 percent. In 2007, U.S. states spent over $109 billion on state-owned highways, a 10 percent increase over 2006. But not everyone is getting their money’s worth. Taxpayers in New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Alaska have the worst-performing highway systems in the nation.
The Reason Foundation study examines state highway systems in 11 categories, including congestion, pavement condition, fatalities, deficient bridges and total spending. The annual report is based on information that each state reported for the year 2007.
Top-ranked North Dakota, which has had the best performing system each year since 2001, scored well by having the least interstate and rural mileage in poor condition and ranking first in maintenance spending. New Mexico continues its impressive improvement. The state was 27th in 2000, but now ranks 2nd in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Kansas is 3rd overall, South Carolina, with one of the largest state-owned highway systems in the country, is 4th and Montana rounds out the top five.
Delaware posted the biggest improvement in the overall rankings, moving from 28th to 11th by cutting spending without sacrificing road condition. Michigan improved from 42nd to 30th thanks to an improvement in rural pavement condition. Mississippi also posted double-digit gains.
Four states fell in the overall rankings by double-digits – Missouri, Oregon, Vermont and Indiana, which fell 16 spots, from 15th to 31st, because of a sharp decline in urban interstate condition and an increase in spending per mile.