Policy Study

Colorado Ranks 37th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Colorado’s highway system ranks 37th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway

Report by Reason Foundation. This is a one-spot improvement from 38th in the previous report.

Colorado’s Interstate pavement quality ranks in the bottom 15 of all states. More than 6% of Colorado’s rural Interstate pavement quality is poor. This percent is three times more than peer state Arizona and significantly higher than peer state Washington. Almost 6% of Colorado’s urban Interstate pavement is in poor condition. This is twice the percentage of Washington and three times the percentage of Arizona.

In safety and performance categories, Colorado ranks 26th in overall fatality rate, 18th in structurally deficient bridges, 35th in traffic congestion, 36th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 47th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Colorado spends $84,554 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 28th in total spending per mile and 27th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Colorado’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (18th) and rural arterial pavement condition (23rd).

Colorado’s worst rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (47th) and maintenance disbursements (38th).

Colorado’s drivers waste 16.52 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 35th in the nation.

Colorado’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 28th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Colorado could improve its rural Interstate pavement condition and increase its efficiency,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason

Foundation. “Colorado has the fourth highest percentage of rural Interstate pavement. In addition, Colorado’s spending numbers are average-high and its overall pavement quality is average-poor. For the amount the state spends, the pavement quality should be better.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Colorado’s overall highway performance is worse than Utah (ranks 6th), Wyoming (ranks 12th), and New Mexico (ranks 27th).

Colorado is better than some comparable states, like Washington (ranks 42nd) and worse than others such as Arizona (ranks 29th).

Colorado ranks poorly, not because it is worst in any one category. Rather the state ranks middle to poor in most every category, with the lowest ranking of 47th and highest of 18th. Disbursements are average to high with pavement quality average to poor. Traffic congestion is poor while bridge quality and fatality rates are average. Simply put, Colorado needs to get more bang for the buck for its system.

Colorado is one of three states to have more than 5% of its rural Interstate mileage in poor condition. Alaska and Washington are the other two states.
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.