Policy Study

New Mexico Ranks 21st in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

New Mexico’s best rankings are maintenance disbursements per mile, urban Interstate pavement condition and capital and bridge disbursements per mile.

New Mexico’s highway system ranks 21st in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three- spot improvement from the previous report, where New Mexico ranked 24th overall.

In safety and performance categories, New Mexico ranks 39th in overall fatality rate, 20th in structurally deficient bridges, 14th in traffic congestion, 3rd in urban Interstate pavement condition and 25th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, New Mexico ranks 6th in total spending per mile and 4th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, New Mexico needs to reduce its urban fatality rate, its administrative disbursements per mile and its overall fatality rate. The state ranks last in urban fatality rate, and in the bottom 15 for administrative disbursements per mile and overall fatality rate. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds New Mexico’s overall highway performance is better than Arizona (ranks 29th), Colorado (ranks 36th) and Texas (ranks 23rd),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “New Mexico is doing better than some comparable states such as Nevada (ranks 27th) but worse than other comparable states such as Utah (ranks 9th).

New Mexico’s best rankings are in maintenance disbursements per mile (1st) and urban Interstate pavement condition (3rd).

New Mexico’s worst rankings are urban fatality rate (50th) and administrative disbursements per mile (39th).

New Mexico’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 21st 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.