S. Carolina ranked no. 1 most cost-effective state highway system

Updated Oct 4, 2016

Southern_terminus_of_I-77_at_I-26_in_Columbia,_South_CarolinaIn its Annual Highway Report, the Reason Foundation found South Carolina to have the most cost-effective state highway system in the country.

The report, now in its 22nd year, looks at the performance of these systems in 11 categories that include highway spending, bridge and road conditions, traffic congestion as well as fatalities. This year’s report is based on data the states submitted in 2013.

“South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) appreciates receiving the top ranking in Overall Performance and Cost-Effectiveness,” Sec. of Transportation Christy Hall says. “This report is clear evidence of SCDOT being a national leader in doing more with less. We should recognize that spending the least per mile in the nation means that some needs are unmet and deferred maintenance is accumulating rapidly.”

The report says the state was last atop the list in 1995, but has consistently ranked in the top 10 since 2003.

Following South Carolina in the rankings to round out the top five were South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Maine. The least cost-effective states include Alaska, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“The numbers show a widening performance gap emerging,” the foundation says. “Most states are making some small progress with their state highway systems but a group of states are struggling and failing to improve.”

The report finds pavement conditions in multiple categories have gotten worse, with urban instate pavement, rural interstate pavement and rural arterial pavement being in poor condition increasing slightly.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • Half (50%) of the nation’s rural Interstate mileage in poor condition can be found in just five states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Washington and Indiana.
  • Almost half (48%) of the country’s urban Interstate mileage rated in poor condition is in five states: California, New York, Texas, Michigan and Louisiana.
  • More than half (54%) of the rural primary mileage in poor condition is in five states: Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin.
  • Traffic congestion in eight states (New Jersey, New York, California, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington) causes more than 50 hours of delay annually per auto commuter.
  • Although bridge conditions are steadily improving, six states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Hawaii) report more than one-third of their bridges as deficient.
  • Fatality rates continue to improve, but four states (South Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia and Montana) have fatality rates greater than 1.5 per 100 million vehicle-miles.
  • Four states (West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Vermont) report that more than one-third of their rural principal arterial roads have narrow lanes that may be unsafe for today’s vehicles.

Here is the full list of states ranked from most cost-effective to least cost-effective:

1. South Carolina
2. South Dakota
3. Kansas
4. Nebraska
5. Maine
6. Montana
7. North Dakota
8. Wyoming
9. Ohio
10. Mississippi
11. New Mexico
12. Missouri
13. Utah
14. Kentucky
15. North Carolina
16. Idaho
17. Oklahoma
18. Tennessee
19. Texas
20. Alabama
21. Georgia
22. Nevada
23. Oregon
24. Arizona
25. West Virginia
26. New Hampshire
27. Minnesota
28. Wisconsin
29. Illinois
30. Virginia
31. Michigan
32. Florida
33. Arkansas
34. Louisiana
35. Colorado
36. Indiana
37. Delaware
38. Maryland
39. Pennsylvania
40. Iowa
41. Vermont
42. California
43. Washington
44. Connecticut
45. New York
46. Massachusetts
47. Rhode Island
48. Hawaii
49. New Jersey
50. Alaska