New Data Shows Michigan Improves to 30th in Annual Highway Report

New national data released this morning showing Michigan highways have improved to 30th in the nation will be a hard sell to business leaders who are clamoring for the state to “fix the damned roads,” and an even harder sell to those who travel many of the roads on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, the release today of the 24th Annual Highway Report, based on data that states submitted to the federal government, ranks each state’s highway system in 13 categories, including traffic fatalities, pavement condition, congestion, spending per mile, administrative costs and more.

When the dust settles on all of the number crunching, Michigan’s highway system ranks 30th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to that report published today by the Reason Foundation. That is actually an improvement by two spots from the previous report, where Michigan ranked 32nd overall.

In safety and performance categories Michigan ranks:

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  • 19th in overall fatality rate
  • 35th in structurally deficient bridges
  • 34th in traffic congestion
  • 42nd in urban Interstate pavement condition
  • 34th in rural Interstate pavement condition
  • On spending, Michigan ranks 38th in total spending per mile

Baruch Feigenbaum is lead author of the Annual Highway Report and also Assistant Director of Transportation at the Reason Foundation. He tells us, “Michigan’s overall ranking is hurt by poor urban Interstate pavement condition (42nd) and urban arterial pavement condition (41st). Compared to nearby states, the report finds Michigan’s overall highway performance is better than Indiana (which ranks 33rd), Pennsylvania (which ranks 35th) and Wisconsin (which ranks 38th).” He adds, “Michigan does still trail other comparable states such as Ohio (which ranks 18th) and Illinois (which ranks 28th), however.”

Michigan’s best rankings are in its rural fatality rate, at 7th, and overall fatality rate at 19th.

Michigan’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 30th largest highway system in the country.

Utilizing data that states submitted to the federal government, Reason Foundation’s 24th Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-owned roads in 13 categories, including pavement condition on urban and rural Interstates, deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, administrative costs, and spending per mile on state roads.

After decades of incremental progress in several key categories, the new report finds 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.

Feigenbaum says, “In 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,” and he adds, “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 our major cities.”

North Dakota ranks first in the Annual Highway Report’s overall performance and cost-effectiveness rankings for the second year in a row. Virginia and Missouri, two of the 20 most populated states in the country, are second and third in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Maine and Kentucky round out the top five states.

The highway systems in New Jersey (50th), Alaska (49th), Rhode Island (48th), Hawaii and Massachusetts rank at the bottom of the nation in overall performance and cost-effectiveness.

The full Annual Highway Report, complete rankings in each category, and historical data from previous editions are available by clicking this link:

Here, from the report, are Michigan’s Complete Results

Ranking (out of 50 states)

  • Overall Rank: #30
  • Overall Rank in Previous Report: #32

Ranking in Each Category

  • Total Disbursements per Mile – #38
  • Capital-Bridge Disbursements per Mile – #27
  • Maintenance Disbursements per Mile – #27
  • Administrative Disbursements per Mile – #25
  • Rural Interstate Percent in Poor Condition – #34
  • Urban Interstate Percent in Poor Condition – #42
  • Rural Other Principal Arterial Percent in Poor Condition – #19
  • Urban Other Principal Arterial Percent in Poor Condition – #41
  • Urban Area Congestion* – #34
  • Structurally Deficient Bridges, Percent* – #35
  • Overall Fatality Rate – #19
  • Rural Fatality Rate – #7
  • Urban Fatality Rate – #30

For more details on the calculation of each of the 13 performance measures used in the report, as well as the overall performance measure, you can refer to the appendix in the main report. The report’s dataset includes Interstate, federal and state roads but not county or local roads.

All rankings are based on performance measures that are ratios rather than absolute values: the financial measures are disbursements per mile, the fatality rate is fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel, the urban congestion measure is the annual delay per auto commuter, and the others are percentages. For example, the state ranking first in structurally deficient bridges has the smallest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, not the smallest number of structurally deficient bridges.

Reason Foundation’s transportation experts have advised four presidential administrations, along with numerous state and metro transportation departments and planning organizations.