Policy Study

North Carolina Ranks 14th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

North Carolina’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition, administrative disbursements per mile, total disbursements per mile, and maintenance disbursements per mile.

North Carolina’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 a three-spot improvement from the previous report, where North Carolina ranked 17th overall.

In safety and performance categories, North Carolina ranks 30th in overall fatality rate, 40th in structurally deficient bridges, 25th in traffic congestion, 6th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 19th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, North Carolina ranks 14th in total spending per mile and 21st in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, North Carolina needs to reduce its rural fatality rate and percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The state ranks in the bottom five for rural fatality rate and ranks 40th for structurally deficient bridges. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds North Carolina’s overall highway performance is worse than South Carolina (ranks 6th), Kentucky (ranks 4th), and Tennessee (ranks 7th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “North Carolina is doing better than comparable states like Georgia (ranks 26th) and Virginia (ranks 21st).”

North Carolina’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (6th) and administrative disbursements per mile (8th).

North Carolina’s worst rankings are rural fatality rate (49th) and structurally deficient bridges (40th).

North Carolina’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 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.