Policy Study

Delaware Ranks 44th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Delaware’s highway system ranks 44th in the nation in overall

cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway

Report by Reason Foundation. This is a four-spot improvement from 48th in the previous report.

Delaware ranks in the bottom 10 of all states in five of the report’s 12 metrics. (Delaware has no rural Interstate mileage). The state manages to have high overall costs, poor Interstate pavement conditions, and poor traffic congestion. Delaware’s administrative spending is the biggest problem. Delaware spends 1.5 times as much per lane-mile as the next worst state, New Jersey, and 3.5 times per lane-mile what peer state Connecticut spends, and 2.5 times per lane-mile what peer state New Hampshire spends. Urbanized area congestion is also a significant problem. Delaware commuters spend 75.29 hours stuck in congestion, five times the amount spent by Connecticut commuters, and nine times the amount spent by New Hampshire commuters.

In safety and performance categories, Delaware ranks 34th in overall fatality rate, 8th in structurally deficient bridges, 49th in traffic congestion, and 48th in urban Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Delaware spends $148,736 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 40th in total spending per mile and 32nd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Delaware’s best rankings are in rural arterial pavement condition (1st) and structurally deficient bridges (8th).

Delaware’s worst rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (50th) and urbanized area congestion (49th).

Delaware’s drivers waste 75.29 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 49th in the nation.

Delaware’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 42nd largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Delaware needs to become more efficient, reduce its traffic congestion, and improve its urban Interstate pavement condition,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state is not getting much bang for the buck as it ranks in the bottom three in urban Interstate condition and traffic congestion.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Delaware’s overall highway performance is better than New Jersey (ranks 50th) but worse than Maryland (ranks 38th), and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th).

Delaware ranks behind other comparable states, like New Hampshire (ranks 19th) and Connecticut (ranks 31st).

Delaware is a state that either ranks well or poorly in each category. The state has no rankings in the 20s. Rural arterial pavement, structurally deficient bridges, and urban arterial pavement are ranked highly. Unfortunately, administrative disbursements, traffic congestion, maintenance disbursements, and rural fatality rate are all ranked in the bottom

10. The number of poor rankings is higher than the number of good rankings leading to the state’s low overall ranking.

Delaware is one of four states that spend more than $15,000 per mile on administrative costs. The others are New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington.

Delaware is one of four states that have more than 10% of their urban Interstates in poor condition. The other three are Hawaii, Louisiana, and New Jersey.

Delaware is one of five states in which drivers spend more than 40 hours per year in traffic congestion. New Jersey, Illinois, New York, and Michigan are the others.

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.