Policy Study

Texas Ranks 23rd in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Texas’ best rankings are structurally deficient bridges, rural arterial pavement condition and rural Interstate pavement condition.

Texas’ highway system ranks 23rd in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a one-spot decrease from the previous report, where Texas ranked 22nd overall.

In safety and performance categories, Texas ranks 37th in overall fatality rate, 1st in structurally deficient bridges, 43rd in traffic congestion, 33rd in urban Interstate pavement condition and 22nd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Texas ranks 27th in total spending per mile and 26th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Texas needs to reduce its traffic congestion. Texas is in the bottom 10 of all states in traffic congestion and has three of the most congested Interstate corridors in the country. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Texas’ overall highway performance is better than Louisiana (ranks 34th) and Oklahoma (ranks 41st) but worse than New Mexico (ranks 21st),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Texas is doing better than some comparable states like California (ranks 43rd) but worse than others like Montana (ranks 8th).”

Texas’ best rankings are structurally deficient bridges (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (13th).

Texas’ worst rankings are in traffic congestion (43rd) and rural fatality rate (38th).

Texas’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 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.