Policy Study

North Dakota Ranks 1st in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

North Dakota’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition, urban fatality rate and maintenance disbursements per mile.

North Dakota’s highway system ranks 1st in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. There is no change from the previous report, where North Dakota ranked 1st overall.

In safety and performance categories, North Dakota ranks 22nd in overall fatality rate, 43rd in structurally deficient bridges, 4th in traffic congestion, 1st in urban Interstate pavement condition and 9th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, North Dakota ranks 11th in total spending per mile and 25th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, North Dakota needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges. North Dakota is in the bottom 10 of all states for structurally deficient bridges. Compared to nearby states, the report finds North Dakota’s overall highway performance is better than Minnesota (ranks 22nd), Nebraska (ranks 15th) and Wyoming (ranks 11th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “North Dakota is doing better than comparable states like Montana (ranks 8th) and South Dakota (ranks 14th).”

North Dakota’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (1st) and urban fatality rate (2nd).

North Dakota’s worst rankings are structurally deficient bridges (43rd) and urban arterial pavement condition (28th).

North Dakota’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 37th largest highway system in the country.

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.