Policy Study

Colorado Ranks 36th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Colorado’s best rankings are structurally deficient bridges, overall fatality rate and administrative disbursements per mile.

Colorado’s highway system ranks 36th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a five-spot decrease from the previous report, where Colorado ranked 31st overall.

In safety and performance categories, Colorado ranks 23rd in overall fatality rate, 13th in structurally deficient bridges, 37th in traffic congestion, 28th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 47th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Colorado ranks 33rd in total spending per mile and 34th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Colorado needs to improve its rural Interstate pavement condition. Colorado is in the bottom five of all states in rural Interstate pavement condition. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Colorado’s overall highway performance is worse than New Mexico (ranks 21st), Utah (ranks 9th) and Wyoming (ranks 11th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Colorado is better than some comparable states like Washington (ranks 37th), but worse than others such as Arizona (ranks 29th).”

Colorado’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (13th) and overall fatality rate (23rd).

Colorado’s worst rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (47th) and urbanized area congestion (37th).

Colorado’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 29th 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.