Policy Study

Florida Ranks 40th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Florida’s best rankings are urban arterial pavement condition, rural arterial pavement condition and structurally deficient bridges.

Florida’s highway system ranks 40th 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 Florida ranked 35th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Florida ranks 42nd in overall fatality rate, 3rd in structurally deficient bridges, 40th in traffic congestion, 5th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 6th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Florida ranks 49th in total spending per mile and 49th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Florida needs to reduce its spending per mile and its fatality rate. Florida is in the bottom 10 of all states in three of the four disbursement categories (total costs per mile, capital and bridge spending per mile and maintenance spending per mile) and bottom five in all three fatality rates. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Florida’s overall highway performance is worse than Georgia (ranks 26th), Alabama (ranks 10th) and South Carolina (ranks 20th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Florida is doing worse than comparable states such as Texas (ranks 23rd) and Pennsylvania (ranks 35th).”

Florida’s best rankings are in urban arterial pavement condition (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (2nd).

Florida’s worst rankings are in total disbursements per mile (49th) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (49th).

Florida’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 20th largest highway system in the country.

Florida ranks 40th in this year’s Annual Highway Report, a decline from last year’s ranking of 35th. The state excels in some parts of the rankings but still ranks poorly overall. And in other state DOT quality rankings, Florida places higher. Why is there a discrepancy? While Florida’s pavement condition is excellent (its worst ranking in the four pavement categories is 6th) and it has few structurally deficient bridges (3rd overall), its average disbursements are high (ranging from 37th to 49th) and its fatality rate is very high (ranging from 42nd to 48th). Florida excels in some rankings but it trails in many others, leading to its overall ranking of 40th. If the state can reduce its average disbursements and fatality rate even slightly, its ranking will improve significantly.

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.