Policy Study

Arkansas Ranks 32nd in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Arkansas’ best rankings are administrative disbursements per mile, total disbursements per mile and maintenance disbursements per mile.

Arkansas’ highway system ranks 32nd in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three- spot decrease from the previous report, where Arkansas ranked 29th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Arkansas ranks 45th in overall fatality rate, 17th in structurally deficient bridges, 13th in traffic congestion, 44th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 40th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Arkansas ranks 10th in total spending per mile and 12th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Arkansas needs to reduce its fatality rate and improve its pavement conditions. Arkansas is in the bottom 15 of all states in all three of the fatality categories and in all four of the pavement categories. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Arkansas’ overall highway performance is better than Oklahoma (ranks 41st) but worse than Mississippi (ranks 25th) and Tennessee (ranks 7th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Arkansas is doing better than some comparable states like Louisiana (ranks 34th) but worse than other comparable states such as Missouri (ranks 3rd).”

Arkansas’ best rankings are in administrative disbursements (3rd) and total disbursements (10th).

Arkansas’ worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (46th) and overall fatality rate (45th).

Arkansas’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 14th 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.