Thursday, August 9, 2007

State by State report on the condition of highways in America from the Reason Foundation

The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Performance Report, which was released in June, contained a category ranking each state’s percentage of deficient bridges. Of the 596,980 highway bridges in the current National Bridge Inventory, 147,913—24.52 percent—were reported deficient in 2005. The Reason Foundation study finds at the current rate of repair it will take 50 years to fix today’s deficient bridges.

Nevada has the lowest percentage of deficient bridges, 3.89 percent. Minnesota, where this week’s tragic bridge collapse occurred, ranked 5th in the nation, with 13 percent of its bridges deemed deficient. Rhode Island’s bridges are in the worst shape – with over half, 53.01 percent, of the state’s bridges qualifying as deficient. In all there are 36 states where at least 20 percent of the bridges are deficient – and 48 states where at least 10 percent of bridges are deficient.

"We're falling further and further behind," said Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at Reason Foundation and an adviser to the Federal Highway Administration. "We're prospering as a nation, driving more as commuters and shipping more goods, and that's pounding the highways and wearing them out. We need to rethink how we fund and repair our roads and bridges."

Deficient Bridges (Percent of Bridges Deficient in 2005)
1. Nevada (3.89%)2. Arizona (5.50)3. Wyoming (12.37)4. Colorado (12.96)5. Minnesota (13.16)6. Wisconsin (15.93)7. Delaware (16.55)8. Utah (17.55)9. Illinois (17.56)10. California (17.59)11. Florida (18.33)12. New Mexico (18.43)13. Idaho (18.91)14. Tennessee (19.26)15. Georgia (20.35)16. Texas (20.56)17. Kansas (21.05)18. Montana (21.20)19. Indiana (21.83)20. Arkansas (22.24)21. Virginia (22.46)22. Alaska (22.84)23. Ohio (23.61)24. South Carolina (23.63)25. North Dakota (24.24)26. Nebraska (24.55)27. Washington (24.55)28. Alabama (24.94)29. Oregon (25.34)30. South Dakota (25.62)31. Mississippi (26.42)32. Maryland (26.93)33. Iowa (27.06)34. Michigan (27.60)35. New Jersey (27.91)36. Maine (29.87)37. New Hampshire (30.54)38. Louisiana (30.67)39. North Carolina (30.91)40. Kentucky (31.45)41. Missouri (31.47)42. Oklahoma (33.04)43. Connecticut (34.18)44. Vermont (34.80)45. Massachusetts (36.38)46. Hawaii (36.85)47. New York (37.08)48. West Virginia (37.10)49. Pennsylvania (39.00)50. Rhode Island (53.01)

Federal law mandates the uniform inspection of all bridges for structural and functional adequacy at least every two years; bridges rated ‘deficient’ are eligible for federal repair dollars.

Full Report Online

The full 16th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems, with detailed information for each state, is available online at The study measures the performance of state-owned roads and highways from 1984 to 2005 in 12 different categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs, to determine each state’s ranking and cost-effectiveness.

Reason’s 2006 study showing how congested each city in the country will be in 2030 and how many new lane miles are needed to eliminate congestion is online at

Reason Foundation’s extensive archive of transportation research and commentary is here:

About Reason

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Reason produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues and publishes the critically acclaimed monthly magazine, Reason. For more information, please visit

Chris Mitchell
Director of Communications
Reason Foundation
(310) 367-6109

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