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Northwest Highway Systems Rated

There were highs and lows for the Northwest 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, congest...

September 15, 2008

There were highs and lows for the Northwest 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 five individual Northwest states follows in the order of overall performance.

Montana

In 2006, Montana ranked 2nd in overall performance, 5th in 2005. With 11,075 miles, Montana has a medium-sized state highway system. Montana's best ranks are in rural primary pavement condition (tied for 1st), urban interstate congestion (tied for 1st), receipts per mile of responsibility (3rd), capital disbursements per mile of responsibility (5th), total disbursements per mile of responsibility (6th), and maintenance disbursements per mile of responsibility (7th). Its lowest rankings were for fatality rate (50th), urban interstate condition (30th), and rural interstate condition (26th).

Montana showed significant improvement in urban interstate condition from 2005, when 11.67 percent of its urban interstates were reported poor, to just 4.76 percent reported poor in 2006. At the same time, its administrative costs per mile of responsibility rose by 44.9 percent from 2005.

Oregon

Oregon ranked 11th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Oregon ranked 8th overall. Oregon is 28th in urban interstate congestion, with 45.35 percent congested. The state tied for 1st in rural interstate condition and tied for 1st in urban interstate condition. Oregon ranks 26th in deficient bridges – 23.73 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Oregon is 21st in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Idaho

Idaho ranked 14th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Idaho ranked 10th overall. Idaho is 14th in urban interstate congestion, with 35.96 percent congested. The state ranks 24th in rural interstate condition and 41st in urban interstate condition. Idaho ranks 14th in deficient bridges – 19.05 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Idaho is 36th in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Washington

Washington ranked 39th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. In last year's rankings, Washington ranked 32nd overall. Washington is 24th in urban interstate congestion, with 42.76 percent congested. The state ranks 42nd in rural interstate condition and 45th in urban interstate condition. Washington ranks 32nd in deficient bridges – 26.18 percent of the state's bridges are deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Washington is 13th in the nation in fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Alaska

In the overall performance ratings for 2006, Alaska ranked 49th, the same as in 2005, but was down from 40th in 2000. The state has 6,436 miles of state-owned highway, less than half the national average. Alaska's best ratings are for urban interstate condition (tied for 1st) with no poor mileage reported and urban interstate congestion (8th). Its worst ratings are for rural primary pavement condition (50th), rural interstate condition (46th), and maintenance disbursements per mile of responsibility (39th). Between 2005 and 2006, Alaska reduced its total disbursements but increased its maintenance costs. Its percent of rural poor interstate doubled, from 4.4 to 8.8 percent.

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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