Policy Study

Maine Ranks 4th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Maine’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition, rural arterial pavement condition and urbanized area congestion.

Maine’s highway system ranks 4th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 19-spot increase from the previous report, where Maine ranked 23rd overall, as the state benefited from the report no longer measuring narrow rural arterial lanes (the state ranked 42nd last year). Maine’s previous ranking (using 2015 data) may have been an aberration as several years ago it ranked 5th (using 2013 data).

In safety and performance categories, Maine ranks 20th in overall fatality rate, 41st in structurally deficient bridges, 7th in traffic congestion, 26th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Maine ranks 15th in total spending per mile and 10th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Maine needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges. Maine is in the bottom 10 for structurally deficient bridges in the country. Compared to nearby states, the report finds Maine’s overall highway performance is better than Connecticut (ranks 44th), New York (ranks 45th) and Massachusetts (ranks 46th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Maine is doing better than comparable states such as New Hampshire (ranks 24th) and Vermont (ranks 19th).”

Maine’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (7th).

Maine’s worst rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (41st) and maintenance disbursements per mile (28th).

Maine’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 34th 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.