Policy Study

Arizona Ranks 29th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Arizona’s highway system ranks 29th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a six-spot decrease from 23rd in the previous report.

Arizona ranks in the bottom 10 of all states in overall fatality rate and urban fatality rate. Arizona’s 1.40 overall fatality rate is 1.5 times higher than peer states Colorado and Nevada. Arizona’s urban fatality rate is two times higher than Nevada and almost twice as high as Colorado.

In safety and performance categories, Arizona ranks 41st in overall fatality rate, 3rd in structurally deficient bridges, 31st in traffic congestion, 13th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 32nd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Arizona spends $108,044 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 37th in total spending per mile and 39th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Arizona’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (3rd) and urban arterial pavement condition (12th).

Arizona’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (49th) and overall fatality rate (41st). Arizona’s drivers waste 11.21 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 31st in the nation.

Arizona’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 31st largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Arizona could reduce its overall fatality rate and its urban fatality rate,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state has a low percentage of structurally deficient bridges but three of its four spending categories rank in the bottom 15 of all states.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Arizona’s overall highway performance is better than California (ranks 45th) but worse than Utah (ranks 6th) and New Mexico (ranks 27th).

Arizona ranks ahead of some comparable states, like Colorado (ranks 37th) and behind others such as Nevada (ranks 20th).

Arizona ranks lower than many of its peer states, because while it shines in some areas it struggles in others. It has a very low percentage of structurally deficient bridges, smooth urban highways, and low maintenance spending. On the other hand, the state ranks in the bottom 10 in overall and rural fatality rates and has a high level of capital disbursements, administrative disbursements, and total disbursements. The state ranks in the middle of most other categories. Arizona would climb in the rankings if it could decrease its fatality rates.

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