Policy Study

Illinois Ranks 28th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Illinois’ best rankings are rural arterial pavement condition, urban Interstate pavement condition and rural Interstate pavement condition.

Illinois’ highway system ranks 28th 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 Illinois ranked 28th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Illinois ranks 16th in overall fatality rate, 26th in structurally deficient bridges, 45th in traffic congestion, 4th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 8th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Illinois ranks 42nd in total spending per mile and 46th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Illinois needs to reduce its total disbursements and capital and bridge disbursements per mile as well as its urbanized area congestion. Illinois is in the bottom 10 for overall disbursements and capital and bridge disbursements per mile as well as the bottom five for traffic congestion. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Illinois’ overall highway performance is better than Indiana (ranks 33rd) and Wisconsin (ranks 38th), but worse than Missouri (ranks 3rd),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Illinois is doing better than a comparable state such as Michigan (ranks 30th), but worse than a comparable state like Ohio (ranks 18th).”

Illinois’ best rankings are in rural arterial pavement condition (3rd) and urban Interstate pavement condition (4th).

Illinois’ worst rankings are in capital and bridge disbursements per mile (46th) and urbanized area congestion (45th).

Illinois’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 11th largest 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.