Policy Study

Ohio Ranks 18th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Ohio’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate, overall fatality rate and urban fatality rate.

Ohio’s highway system ranks 18th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an eight-spot increase from the previous report, where Ohio ranked 26th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Ohio ranks 13th in overall fatality rate, 18th in structurally deficient bridges, 28th in traffic congestion, 29th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 31st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Ohio ranks 28th in total spending per mile and 39th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Ohio needs to reduce its capital and bridge disbursements per mile. The state is in the bottom 15 in the country for capital and bridge disbursements per mile. Compared to nearby states, the report finds Ohio’s overall highway performance is better than Indiana (ranks 33rd) and Pennsylvania (ranks 35th), but worse than Kentucky (ranks 5th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Ohio is doing better than comparable states such as Michigan (ranks 30th) and Illinois (ranks 28th).”

Ohio’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate (5th) and overall fatality rate (13th).

Ohio’s worst rankings are capital and bridge disbursements per mile (39th) and urban arterial pavement condition (35th).

Ohio’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 9th largest highway system in the country.

Overall, less populated states may have a slight edge in the rankings. However, many higher population states continue to rank highly. Ohio, 7th in population, is one of these states. While Ohio has only one top 10 ranking (Rural Fatality Rate is 5th), its high overall ranking is a result of it not placing in the bottom 10 in any category. It ranks in the second quintile (11th to 20th) in five categories, the third quintile (21st to 30th) in four categories and the fourth quintile (31st to 40th) in three categories. Ohio illustrates two ranking realities.
First, a state with large metro areas can rank highly, and second, a state with an absence of poor rankings has a better overall ranking than a state with several excellent rankings but several poor rankings as well.

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.