Report: North Dakota leads, New Jersey lags in highway cost efficiency

The Annual Highway Report from Los Angeles public policy think tank Reason Foundation finds that the nation’s highway conditions are deteriorating, especially in a group of problem plagued states struggling to repair deficient bridges, maintain Interstate pavement and reduce urban traffic congestion. In descending order, the respective leaders and laggards are North Dakota, Virginia, Missouri and Rhode Island, Alaska, New Jersey.

Reason Foundation provides individual state profiles on overall rankings, and by category, including Urban Interstate Pavement Condition. The full 64-page 24th Annual Highway Report is posted at

“Looking at the nation’s highway system as a whole, there was a decades-long trend of incremental improvement in most key categories, but the overall condition of the highway system has worsened in recent years,” says Foundation Assistant Director of Transportation Baruch Feigenbaum, lead report author. “This year we see some improvement on structurally deficient bridges, but pavement conditions on rural and urban highways are declining, the rise in traffic fatalities is worrying, and we aren’t making needed progress on traffic congestion in major cities.”

Based on data submitted to the federal government, the 24th Annual Highway Report ranks each state in pavement condition, spending per mile, administrative costs, congestion, traffic fatalities and eight other categories. The new edition reflects data from 2016, the most recent year with complete figures currently available, along with 2017 traffic congestion and bridge data.

North Dakota ranks first in overall performance and cost-effectiveness rankings of state highway systems for the second consecutive year; its rural and urban Interstate pavement conditions score in the top 10 and the state keeps per-mile costs down. Virginia jumps 25 spots in the current rankings, from 27th overall in the prior report, and is immediately followed by Missouri, Maine and Kentucky. Reason Foundation researchers rank highway systems in Massachusetts (46th), Hawaii (47th), Rhode Island, Alaska and New Jersey at the bottom of the nation in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. The Garden State offers one of the most glaring survey dichotomies: Despite spending the most money per mile, it has the country’s worst urban traffic congestion and some of the worst urban Interstate pavement conditions.



States show a weighted average of $71,117 in total disbursements per state-controlled mile. States runs the gamut on this metric, from #1-ranked South Carolina, at $13,225/mile to #50-ranked New Jersey, at $511,266/mile.


Texas leads with 1.57 percent of bridges deemed structurally deficient, while Rhode Island lags at 23.26 percent.