Policy Study

Georgia Ranks 26th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

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

Georgia’s highway system ranks 26th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an eight- spot decrease from the previous report, where Georgia ranked 18th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Georgia ranks 31st in overall fatality rate, 7th in structurally deficient bridges, 47th in traffic congestion, 4th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 14th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Georgia ranks 22nd in total spending per mile and 30th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Georgia needs to improve its urbanized area congestion. Georgia is in the bottom five of all states for its urbanized area congestion and has three of the most congested Interstate corridors in the country. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Georgia’s overall highway performance is better than Florida (ranks 40th), but worse than 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. “Georgia is doing worse than comparable states such as North Carolina (ranks 17th), and Virginia (ranks 2nd).”

Georgia’s best rankings are in urban arterial pavement condition (4th) and structurally deficient bridges (7th).

Georgia’s worst rankings are in urbanized area congestion (47th) and administrative disbursements per mile (41st).

Georgia’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 10th largest highway system in the country.

Georgia has historically ranked in the top 20 of the Annual Highway Report but this year it slipped to 26th. While this may sound troubling, it reaffirms Georgia’s 2015 decision to revamp its transportation funding system. Prior to 2015, Georgia had county gasoline sales taxes that went to the county general fund instead of to the Department of Transportation for roadway funding. As part of the 2015 change, including the imposition of an electric vehicle fee, Georgia dedicated substantially more money to transportation with a minimal gas tax increase. Due to the lag in the data, Georgia’s numbers are expected to start improving with 2017 and 2018 data. The worsening of Georgia’s pavement conditions between 2012 and 2016 shows the importance of dedicating gas tax revenue to highways.

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.