Policy Study

Wisconsin Ranks 22nd in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Wisconsin’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate, maintenance disbursements per mile, capital and bridge disbursements per mile, and urban fatality rate.

Wisconsin’s highway system ranks 22nd in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 16-spot improvement from the previous report, where Wisconsin ranked 38th overall, as the state moved up 27 positions in the capital and bridge disbursements category.

In safety and performance categories, Wisconsin ranks 9th in overall fatality rate, 27th in structurally deficient bridges, 22nd in traffic congestion, 37th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 44th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Wisconsin ranks 29th in total spending per mile and 13th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Wisconsin needs to improve its pavement conditions. The state is in the bottom 10 in two of the pavement categories (rural Interstate and urban arterial) and the bottom 15 in the other two (urban Interstate and rural arterial). Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Wisconsin’s overall highway performance is better than Illinois (ranks 36th) and Indiana (ranks 32nd), but worse than Iowa (ranks 19th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Wisconsin is doing better than some comparable states like Michigan (ranks 24th), but worse than others like Minnesota (ranks 15th).”

Wisconsin’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate (9th) and maintenance disbursements per mile (11th).

Wisconsin’s worst rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (44th) and urban arterial pavement condition (41st).

Wisconsin’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 24th 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.