Policy Study

Alabama Ranks 10th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectivenes

Alabama’s best rankings are maintenance disbursements per mile, urban arterial pavement condition and rural arterial pavement condition.

Alabama’s highway system ranks 10th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a seven- spot improvement from the previous report, where Alabama ranked 17th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Alabama ranks 43rd in overall fatality rate, 22nd in structurally deficient bridges, 18th in traffic congestion, 30th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 16th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Alabama ranks 16th in total spending per mile and 16th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Alabama needs to reduce its fatality rate. Alabama is in the bottom 15 of all states in each of the fatality rankings. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Alabama’s overall highway performance is better than Georgia (ranks 26th) and Mississippi (ranks 25th) but worse than Tennessee (ranks 7th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Alabama is doing better than comparable states like South Carolina (ranks 20th) and Louisiana (ranks 34th).”

Alabama’s best rankings are in maintenance disbursements (2nd) and urban arterial pavement condition (2nd).

Alabama’s worst rankings are in overall fatality rate (43rd) and rural fatality rate (40th).

Alabama’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 24th largest highway system in the country.

The Annual Highway Report is based on spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government for 2016 as well as urban congestion data from INRIX and bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2017. For more details on the calculation of each of the 13 performance measures used in the report, as well as the overall performance measure, please refer to the appendix in the main report. The report’s dataset includes Interstate, federal and state roads but not county or local roads. All rankings are based on performance measures that are ratios rather than absolute values: the financial measures are disbursements per mile, the fatality rate is fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel, the urban congestion measure is the annual delay per auto commuter, and the others are percentages. For example, the state ranking 1st in structurally deficient bridges has the smallest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, not the smallest number of structurally deficient bridges.