Policy Study

Rhode Island Ranks 46th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Rhode Island’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition, overall fatality rate, and urban Interstate pavement condition.

Rhode Island’s highway system ranks 46th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a two-spot improvement from the previous report, where Rhode Island ranked 48th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Rhode Island ranks 4th in overall fatality rate, 50th in structurally deficient bridges, 46th in traffic congestion, 7th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Rhode Island ranks 41st in total spending per mile and 44th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Rhode Island needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and improve its arterial pavement condition. Rhode Island is last in structurally deficient bridges and ranks in the bottom two for both arterial pavement categories. Compared to nearby states, the report finds Rhode Island’s overall highway performance is worse than New Hampshire (ranks 29th) and New York (ranks 44th), but better than Massachusetts (ranks 47th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Rhode Island is doing better than some comparable states like New Jersey (ranks 50th), but worse than others like Connecticut (ranks 35th).”

Rhode Island’s best rankings are rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and overall fatality rate (4th).

Rhode Island’s worst rankings are structurally deficient bridges (50th), urban arterial pavement condition (49th), and rural arterial pavement condition (49th).

Rhode Island’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 49th 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.