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Highway Systems Rated

There were highs and lows for the mountain states in the Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems.

October 13, 2008

There were highs and lows for the mountain states in the Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems.

The study measures the condition of all state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2006 and calculates the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 different categories, including pavement condition, bridge condition, traffic fatalities, congestion, highway maintenance costs, and administrative costs.

According to the study report, the nation's continuing trend of generally improving highway performance from 1998 to 2003 was reestablished in 2005 and continued in 2006. Six of seven key performance indicators improved between 2005 and 2006.

Passage of new federal highway legislation in 2005 provided new dollars for roads, bridges and transit systems. Using the increased funding, states improved pavements, made bridge repairs, and achieved some congestion relief. The performance of the six individual mountain states follows in the order of overall performance.

New Mexico

In 2006, New Mexico ranked 3rd nationwide in the overall performance ratings. The state has seen steady improvement in the performance ratings from 2000, when it ranked 27th. In 2006, its best ratings were for rural interstate condition (tied for 1st), receipts per mile of responsibility (5th), capital bridge disbursements per mile of responsibility (7th), deficient bridges (8th), and urban interstate congestion (9th). New Mexico's lowest rankings were for fatality rate (42nd), maintenance disbursements per mile of responsibility (21st), urban interstate condition (21st), rural primary pavement narrow (20th), and administrative disbursements per mile of responsibility (19th).

New Mexico had a large reduction in administrative disbursements per mile of responsibility, from $11,466 per mile in 2005 (which was inordinately high) to $6,048 per mile in 2006, in line with earlier years. This occurred possibly as a result of moving dollars from administration into project budgets.

Wyoming

In the overall performance ratings for 2006, Wyoming stood 4th, compared with 7th in 2005 and 2nd in 1998. Wyoming reported a total of 7,467 miles under state control, about one-half the national average. For 2006, Wyoming's best ratings were for urban interstate congestion (tied for 1st), deficient bridges (3rd), receipts per mile of responsibility (6th), capital disbursements per mile of responsibility (6th), total disbursements per mile of responsibility (7th), and rural primary pavement condition (9th). Wyoming performed worst in fatality rate (45th), urban interstate condition (33rd), and rural interstate condition (29th).

Between 2005 and 2006, Wyoming moved from 7th to 4th overall, largely as a result of cost reductions and improvement in the urban interstate. Its fatality rate worsened slightly but not enough to prevent its gains.

Nevada

Nevada ranked 20th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Nevada ranked 9th overall. Nevada is 37th in urban interstate congestion, with 54.70 percent congested. The state tied for 1st in rural interstate condition and 16th in urban interstate condition. Nevada ranks 1st in deficient bridges — 3.92 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Nevada is 43rd in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Utah

Utah ranked 25th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Utah ranked 21st overall Utah is 31st in urban interstate congestion, with 46.51 percent congested. The state ranks 31st in rural interstate condition and 20th in urban interstate condition. Utah ranks 7th in deficient bridges — 16.37 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Utah is 11th in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Arizona

Arizona ranked 26th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Arizona ranked 27th overall. Arizona is 15th in urban interstate congestion, with 39.89 percent congested. The state tied for 1st in rural interstate condition and tied for 1st in urban interstate condition. Arizona ranks 2nd in deficient bridges — 5.54 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Arizona is 48th in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Colorado

Colorado ranked 31st in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Colorado ranked 29th overall. Colorado is 19th in urban interstate congestion, with 41.26 percent congested. The state ranks 36th in rural interstate condition and 34th in urban interstate condition. Colorado ranks 4th in deficient bridges — 12.99 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Colorado is 10th in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Reason Foundation is a libertarian think tank. Its nonpartisan public policy research promotes choice, competition and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress. Reason produces peer-reviewed research and directly engages the policy process, seeking strategies that emphasize cooperation, flexibility, local knowledge, and results. For more information, click on www.reason.org.

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