Policy Study

Kentucky Ranks 5th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Kentucky’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile, urban arterial pavement condition and rural arterial pavement condition.

Kentucky’s highway system ranks 5th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an eight- spot increase from the previous report, where Kentucky ranked 13th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Kentucky ranks 48th in overall fatality rate, 23rd in structurally deficient bridges, 25th in traffic congestion, 16th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 12th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Kentucky ranks 18th in total spending per mile and 18th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Kentucky needs to improve its overall and urban fatality rate. Kentucky is in the bottom five of all states for its overall fatality rate and its urban fatality rate. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Kentucky’s overall highway performance is better than Indiana (ranks 33rd) and Ohio (ranks 18th) but worse than Virginia (ranks 2nd),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Kentucky is roughly equivalent to comparable states like Missouri (ranks 3rd) and Tennessee (ranks 7th).”

Kentucky’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (1st) and urban arterial pavement condition (8th).

Kentucky’s worst rankings are in overall fatality rate (48th) and urban fatality rate (45th).

Kentucky’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 8th 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.