Policy Study

Alaska Ranks 49th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Alaska’s best rankings are traffic congestion, urban Interstate pavement condition and urban arterial pavement condition.

Alaska’s highway system ranks 49th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a one-spot decrease from the previous report, where Alaska ranked 48th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Alaska ranks 47th in overall fatality rate, 36th in structurally deficient bridges, 6th in traffic congestion, 19th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 48th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Alaska ranks 29th in total spending per mile and 41st in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Alaska needs to improve its rural pavement condition and reduce its fatality rate. Alaska ranks in the bottom three states for rural Interstate pavement condition and rural arterial pavement condition and in the bottom 15 states for each of the fatality rankings. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Alaska’s overall highway performance is worse than Idaho (ranks 13th), Oregon (ranks 12th) and Washington (ranks 37th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Alaska is doing worse than comparable states like Montana (ranks 8th) and Hawaii (ranks 47th).”

Alaska’s best rankings are in traffic congestion (6th) and urban Interstate pavement condition (19th).

Alaska’s worst rankings are rural arterial pavement condition (50th) and rural Interstate pavement condition (48th).

Alaska’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 35th 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.