Policy Study

Nebraska Ranks 15th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Nebraska’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile, urban fatality rate and urban area congestion.

Nebraska’s highway system ranks 15th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an 11-spot decrease from the previous report, where Nebraska ranked 4th overall, as the state rankings worsened in many categories, with a significant increase in the percentage of structurally deficient bridges.

In safety and performance categories, Nebraska ranks 17th in overall fatality rate, 45th in structurally deficient bridges, 8th in traffic congestion, 24th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 18th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Nebraska ranks 13th in total spending per mile and 14th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Nebraska needs to improve its urban arterial pavement condition and reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges. Nebraska is in the bottom 10 states for urban arterial pavement condition and structurally deficient bridges. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Nebraska’s overall highway performance is better than Colorado (ranks 36th) and Iowa (ranks 31st) but worse than Wyoming (ranks 11th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Nebraska is doing worse than comparable states such as Kansas (ranks 6th) and South Dakota (ranks 14th).”

Nebraska’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (2nd) and urban fatality rate (8th).

Nebraska’s worst rankings are urban arterial pavement condition (45th) and structurally deficient bridges (45th).

Nebraska’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 28th 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.