Policy Study

South Carolina Ranks 6th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

South Carolina’s best rankings are in total disbursements per mile, capital and bridge disbursements per mile, and maintenance disbursements per mile.

South Carolina’s highway system ranks 6th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 14-spot improvement from the previous report, where South Carolina ranked 20th overall, as the state made notable improvements in rural Interstate and arterial pavement conditions. Last year’s ranking may have been an aberration, as South Carolina previously ranked 5th overall in 2015.

In safety and performance categories, South Carolina ranks 50th in overall fatality rate, 31st in structurally deficient bridges, 15th in traffic congestion, 20th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 14th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, South Carolina ranks 3rd in total spending per mile and 5th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, South Carolina needs to reduce its fatality rates. South Carolina is last in overall fatality and in the bottom 10 for urban and rural fatality. Compared to nearby states, the report finds South Carolina’s overall highway performance is better than Georgia (ranks 26th), Tennessee (ranks 7th), and North Carolina (ranks 14th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “South Carolina is doing worse than some comparable states like Kentucky (ranks 4th), but better than others like Alabama (ranks 19th).”

South Carolina’s best rankings are in total disbursements per mile (3rd) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (5th).

South Carolina’s worst rankings are overall fatality rate (50th) and rural fatality rate (47th).

South Carolina’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 5th 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.