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The Best and the Worst State Highway Systems

North Dakota leads. New York, New Jersey, California are bad.

by on Dec.17, 2009

The Federal gasoline taxes you pay will likely at least double from the current 18 cents a gallon.

In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, more than half of all bridges need fixing.

North Dakota continues to have the nation’s most cost-effective state-owned highway system, according to a study released today.

However, not every state resident 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, according to the Reason Foundation.

Since 1984, per-mile total disbursements on state highways have increased by 262%. In 2007, the latest data available, U.S. states spent over $109 billion on state-owned highways, a 10% increase compared to 2006.

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.

North Dakota, which has had the best performing system each year since 2001, scored best by having the least interstate and rural mileage in poor condition, as well as ranking first in maintenance spending. New Mexico was 27th in 2000, but 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 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.