Missouri ranks eighth in overall highway performance

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | 6:22 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — As Missouri families take summer road trips, they will be traveling along some of the most efficient roadways in the country.  

According to the 20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems by the Reason Foundation, Missouri ranked eighth in overall highway performance for the second consecutive year.

The report studies 11 criteria such as total highway spending, rural and urban interstate conditions, urban interstate congestion and fatality rates to determine the overall highway performance and efficiency of each state.  The rankings are based on 2009 data, which is the most recently available.

"Terrain, climate and geography, urban congestion, system age, budget priorities, unit cost differences, state budget circumstances and management philosophies" are some of the factors affecting differences in state performance, according to the report. 

Notable Missouri rankings include:

  • a 20-way tie for first in rural interstate pavement condition
  • third in administrative disbursements per state-owned mile
  • seventh in state-controlled miles, with 33,638 miles
  • 36th in narrow rural lanes 
  • 37th in deficient bridges

David Hartgen, lead author of the report and emeritus transportation professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, noted Missouri's budget is close to less than half the national average. 

"The need to focus on early maintenance can slowly improve the roads," he said. "Missouri's urban interstate is in good condition."  

Missouri ranked 18th in urban interstate condition with just 1.53 percent of highway miles rated poor. 

According to the report, the overall U.S. state-owned highway system was in its best condition to date in 2009.  

North Dakota, Kansas and Wyoming are the top 3, respectively. Less populated states tend to rank high year after year because they face less use and strain than more populated states.   

The report suggests that many problems occur consistently in the same states: New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska have been ranked in the bottom 10 for the past five reports.  

Hartgen pointed out that these states range in transportation needs and conditions and a variety of reasons contribute to their low rankings.

"It isn't just size, it isn't just weather or traffic, it's a combination of many things," he said.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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