Policy Documents

20th Annual Highway Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems

David T. Hartgen, M. Gregory Fields, Elizabeth San José and Adrian Moore –
July 2, 2013

In this policy report at the Reason Foundation, Reason Foundation’s 20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems tracks the performance of state-owned highway systems of the United States from 1984 to 2009. Eleven indicators make up each state’s overall rating, including highway expenditures, interstate and primary road pavement condition, bridge condition, urban interstate congestion, fatality rates and narrow rural lanes. The study is based on spending and performance data submitted by the state highway agencies to the federal government.

The system’s overall condition improved dramatically from 2008 to 2009. Six of the seven key indicators of system condition showed improvement, including large gains in rural interstate and urban interstate condition, and a reduction in the fatality rate. Only rural arterial condition worsened slightly, but poor mileage is still only a fraction of 1 percent. These improvements were achieved despite a slight reduction in per-mile expenditures. All seven indicators of performance improved between 2005 and 2009. Overall, expenditures for state-owned roads have increased about 18.8 percent since 2005, but in the 2008-09 recession expenditures actually decreased slightly between 2008 and 2009, dropping about 0.6 percent. States were also more cost-efficient with their money in 2009: administrative costs dropped about 14 percent (possibly through the states disbursing funds received earlier). In addition, money was shifted to capital and bridge expenditures (up 3.5 percent) and maintenance expenditures (up 11.0 percent).

For a full report by state, please download the attached pdf report.