Policy Study

Vermont Ranks 19th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Vermont’s best rankings are rural Interstate pavement condition, urban Interstate pavement condition and urban fatality rate.

Vermont’s highway system ranks 19th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 20-spot improvement from the previous report, where Vermont ranked 39th overall, as the state benefited from the report’s increased emphasis on fatality rates (Vermont ranked 6th, 8th and 3rd in Fatality Rate, Rural Fatality Rate and Urban Fatality Rate respectively) and the elimination of the Narrow Rural Arterial Lane ranking (Vermont ranked 47th last year).

In safety and performance categories, Vermont ranks 6th in overall fatality rate, 10th in structurally deficient bridges, 10th in traffic congestion, 1st in urban Interstate pavement condition and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Vermont ranks 26th in total spending per mile and 23rd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Vermont needs to reduce its maintenance and administrative disbursements and improve its rural arterial pavement condition. Vermont is in the bottom 15 of all states in maintenance disbursements per mile, administrative disbursements per mile and rural arterial pavement condition. Compared to nearby states, the report finds Vermont’s overall highway performance is better than Connecticut (ranks 44th), Massachusetts (ranks 46th) and New York (ranks 45th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “Vermont is doing better than some comparable states like New Hampshire (ranks 24th) but worse than others like Maine (ranks 4th).”

Vermont’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and urban Interstate pavement condition (1st).

Vermont’s worst rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (40th) and rural arterial pavement condition (39th).

Vermont’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 48th 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.