Policy Study

Montana Ranks 10th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Montana’s best rankings are in urban fatality rate, urban Interstate pavement condition, maintenance disbursements per mile, and total disbursements per mile.

Montana’s highway system ranks 10th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a two-spot decline from the previous report, where Montana ranked 8th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Montana ranks 42nd in overall fatality rate, 28th in structurally deficient bridges, 14th in traffic congestion, 11th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 24th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Montana ranks 13th in total spending per mile and 18th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Montana needs to reduce its fatality rate. The state is in the bottom 15 for overall and rural fatality rates. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Montana’s overall highway performance is better than South Dakota (11th) and Washington (45th), but worse than North Dakota (ranks 1st),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Montana is doing better than some comparable states like Wyoming (ranks 36th), but worse than others like Idaho (ranks 5th).”

Montana’s best rankings are in urban fatality rate (2nd) and urban Interstate pavement condition (11th).

Montana’s worst rankings are overall fatality rate (42nd) and rural fatality rate (37th).

Montana’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 19th 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 2018 as well as urban congestion data from INRIX and bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2019.