Policy Study

South Dakota Ranks 14th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

South Dakota’s best rankings are in total disbursements per mile, capital and bridge disbursements per mile and maintenance disbursements per mile.

South Dakota’s highway system ranks 14th 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 South Dakota ranked 3rd overall, as rural Interstate pavement condition and rural arterial pavement condition declined significantly. The percentage of structurally deficient bridges also increased significantly.

In safety and performance categories, South Dakota ranks 28th in overall fatality rate, 47th in structurally deficient bridges, 9th in traffic congestion, 8th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 23rd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, South Dakota ranks 4th in total spending per mile and 5th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, South Dakota needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and improve its urban arterial pavement condition. South Dakota is in the bottom five for structurally deficient bridges and the bottom 10 for urban arterial pavement condition. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds South Dakota’s overall highway performance is better than Minnesota (ranks 22nd) 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. “South Dakota is doing better than some comparable state such as Nebraska (ranks 15th), but worse than others like North Dakota (ranks 1st).”

South Dakota’s best rankings are in total disbursements per mile (4th) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (5th).

South Dakota’s worst rankings are structurally deficient bridges (47th), urban arterial pavement condition (42nd), and rural arterial pavement condition (33rd).

South Dakota’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 32nd 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.