Policy Study

Arizona Ranks 29th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Arizona’s best rankings are structurally deficient bridges, urban Interstate pavement condition and maintenance disbursements per mile.

Arizona’s highway system ranks 29th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 13-spot decrease from the previous report, where Arizona ranked 16th overall, as the state was negatively affected by the report’s increased emphasis on fatality rate (Arizona ranked 40th, 36th and 49th in Overall Fatality Rate, Rural Fatality Rate and Urban Fatality Rate) and elimination of the Narrow Rural Arterial Lanes category (Arizona ranked 1st last year).
Arizona’ previous rankings (using 2015 data) may have been an aberration as several years ago it ranked 24th (using 2013 data).

In safety and performance categories, Arizona ranks 40th in overall fatality rate, 4th in structurally deficient bridges, 36th in traffic congestion, 6th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 29th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Arizona ranks 32nd in total spending per mile and 35th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Arizona needs to reduce its fatality rate. Arizona is in the bottom 15 of all states in each of the fatality rankings. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Arizona’s overall highway performance is better than California (ranks 43rd) but worse than New Mexico (ranks 21st) and Utah (ranks 9th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Arizona is about equal to comparable states, ranking better than Colorado (ranks 36th) but lower than Nevada (ranks 27th).”

Arizona’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (4th) and urban Interstate pavement condition (6th).

Arizona’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (49th) and overall fatality rate (40th).

Arizona’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 36th largest highway system in the country.

Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-controlled highways in 13 categories, including pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending (capital, maintenance, administrative, overall) per mile.

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.