Policy Study

West Virginia Ranks 16th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

West Virginia’s best rankings are total disbursements per mile, traffic congestion and capital and bridge disbursements per mile.

West Virginia’s highway system ranks 16th 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 West Virginia ranked 36th overall, as the fatality rate decreased somewhat and the state benefited from the report no longer measuring narrow rural arterial lanes (the state ranked 50th last year).

In safety and performance categories, West Virginia ranks 36th in overall fatality rate, 48th in structurally deficient bridges, 2nd in traffic congestion, 20th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 21st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, West Virginia ranks 2nd in total spending per mile and 3rd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, West Virginia needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and its rural arterial pavement condition. The state is in the bottom five for structurally deficient bridges and the bottom 15 for rural arterial pavement condition in the country. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds West Virginia’s overall highway performance is better than Ohio (ranks 18th) and Maryland (ranks 39th) but worse than Virginia (ranks 2nd),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “West Virginia is doing better than some comparable states like Kentucky (ranks 5th) and worse than others like Indiana (ranks 33rd).”

West Virginia’s best rankings are in capital and bridge disbursements (2nd) and traffic congestion (2nd).

West Virginia’s worst rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (48th) and rural arterial pavement condition (40th).

West Virginia’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 6th 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.