Study: More Money Doesn’t Equal Better Highways

September 18, 2014

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Photo: Evan Lockridge
Photo: Evan Lockridge

More money is going to state highways, but there has been very little progress in improving their condition, according to a new report from the libertarian think tank the Reason Foundation and its 21st Annual Highway Report.

It found spending on state-owned roads totaled $132 billion in 2012, up 6% from 2011 while spending varied from state to state. For example, South Carolina and West Virginia spent $39,000 per mile of road in 2012 while New Jersey spent over $2 million per state-controlled mile. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California and Florida were the next biggest spenders, spending more than $500,000 per state-controlled mile.

According to the study, from 2011 to 2012 the pavement condition on urban Interstate highways showed only very slight improvement, with 4.97% of urban mileage deemed to be in poor condition in 2012, down from 5.18% in 2011..

The report says one theory that roads aren’t getting better may be due to increasing administrative costs. Hawaii spent $90,000 on administrative costs for every mile of state road, the most of any state. Connecticut had the next highest administrative costs at $77,000 per mile. On the other side of the scale, Texas administration costs were less than $4,000 per mile and Kentucky spent less than $1,000 per mile on office costs, the least in the nation.

The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-owned roads in 11 categories, including pavement condition on urban and rural Interstates, deficient bridges, unsafe narrow lanes, traffic fatalities, administrative costs, and total spending on state roads. The study’s rankings are based on data the states reported to the federal government for 2012 except for the urban Interstate congestion rankings, which are based on the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s congestion figures for the first time.

More details from the report is available from the Reason Foundation website, where there is also a link to the entire report.


  1. 1. Alamo [ September 19, 2014 @ 03:20AM ]

    What is the governments answer to this ? " We need more money". More money to squander while little is accomplished.

  2. 2. Cliff Downing [ September 19, 2014 @ 05:15AM ]

    It took a study to figure this all out? We built the Alaska-Canada highway in 1942-43, almost 1500 miles, it around 18 months. Today, seems no one can even get an on ramp done in that time frame. There is massive waste and cost overruns going on that sap the money that is targeted to infrastructure. And a lot is wasted on frivolous feel good beautification projects along roads and not the roads themselves. Some of which actually decreases safety because vegetation blocks view of on ramp traffic that is merging with main road. The inmates have definitely taken over the asylum.


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