Policy Study

Alabama Ranks 28th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Alabama’s highway system ranks 28th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a nine-spot decrease from 19th in the previous report.

Alabama ranks in the bottom 15 nationally in five of the report’s 13 metrics. Fatality rates are a major problem. The state’s urban fatality rate of 1.05 trails peer states Louisiana and South Carolina noticeably. The state’s 1.67 rural fatality rate is 1.5 times higher than Louisiana’s rate but somewhat better than South Carolina’s. Administrative costs are also disproportionately high. Alabama’s $11,364 disbursement per lane-mile is eight times higher than South Carolina and Louisiana.

In safety and performance categories, Alabama ranks 36th in overall fatality rate, 9th in structurally deficient bridges, 20th in traffic congestion, 38th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 24th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

The state spends $74,015 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 23rd in total spending per mile and 29th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Alabama’s best rankings are in urban arterial pavement condition (5th) and structurally deficient bridges (9th).

Alabama’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (43rd), administrative disbursements per mile (40th), and rural fatality rate (40th).

Alabama’s drivers waste 7.19 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 20th in the nation.

Alabama’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 20th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Alabama could reduce its urban and rural fatality rate and reduce its administrative costs,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of

the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state held steady or worsened in each of those three categories.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Alabama’s overall highway performance is worse than Tennessee (ranks 10th), Georgia (ranks 14th), and Mississippi (ranks 15th).

Alabama ranks ahead of some comparable states like Louisiana (ranks 35th) but behind others like South Carolina (ranks 23rd).

Alabama has fallen 18 places over the past two reports from a state ranked in the top 10 to one ranked average. In previous reports Alabama had low spending with good quality pavement. In the 26th Annual Highway Report, the state has average spending with average pavement. In order to improve its rankings, Alabama needs to improve its efficiency and/or its pavement quality. Alabama’s strong rankings in urban arterial pavement condition and deficient bridges are countered by poor rankings in fatality rate and administrative disbursements per mile with most other rankings being about average.

Alabama is one of 11 states that have urban fatality rates of 1.0 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles. The other 10 states are New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, Alaska, Tennessee, Hawaii, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas.
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, total) per mile.