North Dakota has best highway system, report says
North Dakota continues to have the nation’s most cost-effective, state-owned highway system, according to the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation’s 18th Annual Highway Report. The study also found that more than half of all state-owned highways across the country are congested, and 25 percent of bridges are deficient or functionally obsolete.
North Dakota, which has had the best performing system each year since 2001, earned the top rank by having the least interstate and rural mileage in poor condition and spending the least amount per mile on maintenance, according to the foundation. New Mexico, which was 27th in 2000, now ranks second in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Kansas is third overall, South Carolina, with one of the largest state-owned highway systems in the country, is fourth 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 improvements in rural pavement conditions. Mississippi also posted double-digit gains.
However, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont and Indiana fell in the overall rankings by double-digits. Taxpayers in New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Alaska have the worst performing highway systems in the nation, according to the report. “This year’s report shows the difficulties that many states are having when it comes to making across-the-board progress in road conditions,” said David Hartgen, lead author of the highway report and senior fellow at Reason Foundation. “In many cases, we see two steps forward, one step back. We saw improvement in five key categories in 2007, but also found that over a quarter of the nation’s bridges are rated deficient. Urban interstate conditions are worsening again. And real progress in reducing urban congestion has slowed to a crawl.”
The report also found that 151,101 bridges — 25.29 percent of the country’s total — were deficient and or functionally obsolete in 2007, a 1 percent worsening since 2006. In the two worst states, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, more than half of all bridges need improvement.
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.
Read the entire report.