Policy Study

Maryland Ranks 39th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Maryland’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate, overall fatality rate and structurally deficient bridges.

Maryland’s highway system ranks 39th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a one-spot increase from the previous report, where Maryland ranked 40th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Maryland ranks 7th in overall fatality rate, 14th in structurally deficient bridges, 44th in traffic congestion, 39th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 27th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Maryland ranks 44th in total spending per mile and 44th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Maryland needs to reduce its spending per mile and its traffic congestion. Maryland is in the bottom 15 in all four disbursement categories and the bottom 10 states in traffic congestion. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Maryland’s overall highway performance is better than Delaware (ranks 42nd), but worse than Pennsylvania (ranks 35th) and Virginia (ranks 2nd),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Maryland is doing better than comparable states such as Massachusetts (ranks 48th) and New Jersey (ranks 50th).”

Maryland’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate (3rd) and overall fatality rate (7th).

Maryland’s worst rankings are in maintenance disbursements per mile (45th) and traffic congestion (44th).

Maryland’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 42nd 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.