Policy Study

Hawaii Ranks 47th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Hawaii’s best rankings are structurally deficient bridges, urbanized area congestion and overall fatality rate.

Hawaii’s highway system ranks 47th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. There is no change from the previous report, where Hawaii ranked 47th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Hawaii ranks 21st in overall fatality rate, 15th in structurally deficient bridges, 19th in traffic congestion and 50th in urban Interstate pavement condition. Hawaii has no rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Hawaii ranks 41st in total spending per mile and 42nd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Hawaii needs to improve its pavement condition and reduce its fatality rate. The state ranks in the bottom 15 in all three pavement categories as well as in the bottom five in rural and urban fatality rates. The state has the worst urban Interstate pavement condition and rural fatality rate in the country. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Hawaii’s overall highway performance is worse than Arizona (ranks 29th), California (ranks 43rd) and Oregon (ranks 12th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Hawaii is doing better than some comparable states such as Alaska (ranks 49th) but worse than others such as New Hampshire (ranks 24th).”

Hawaii’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (15th) and urbanized area congestion (19th).

Hawaii’s worst rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (50th) and rural fatality rate (50th).

Hawaii’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the smallest 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.