Policy Study

Pennsylvania Ranks 35th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

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

Pennsylvania’s highway system ranks 35th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a six-spot increase from the previous report, where Pennsylvania ranked 41st overall.

In safety and performance categories, Pennsylvania ranks 25th in overall fatality rate, 46th in structurally deficient bridges, 35th in traffic congestion, 32nd in urban Interstate pavement condition and 32nd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Pennsylvania ranks 39th in total spending per mile and 38th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Pennsylvania needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and improve its rural arterial pavement condition. Pennsylvania is in the bottom 10 for structurally deficient bridges and rural arterial pavement condition.
Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Pennsylvania’s overall highway performance is better than Maryland (ranks 39th) and New Jersey (ranks 50th) but worse than West Virginia (ranks 16th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Pennsylvania is doing better than some comparable states such as New York (ranks 45th) but worse than other comparable states such as Ohio (ranks 18th).”

Pennsylvania’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate (20th) and overall fatality rate (25th).

Pennsylvania’s worst rankings are structurally deficient bridges (46th) and rural arterial pavement condition (41st).

Pennsylvania’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 4th 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.