Policy Study

Florida Ranks 41st in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Florida’s highway system ranks 41st in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a one-spot decrease from 40th in the previous report.

Florida ranks in the bottom 10 of all states in six of the 13 categories. Florida’s low ranking results from very high per-mile spending and a high fatality rate. The state’s costs are disproportionately high and the biggest driver of its poor overall rankings. While some higher costs are understandable, Florida spends $140,268 more per mile than peer state Pennsylvania, $167,444 more per mile than peer state Texas, and $175,603 more per mile than neighboring state Georgia.

In safety and performance categories, Florida ranks 42nd in overall fatality rate, 6th in structurally deficient bridges, 37th in traffic congestion, 20th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 9th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Florida spends $242,597 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 47th in total spending per mile and 49th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Florida’s best rankings are in urban arterial pavement condition (2nd), rural arterial pavement condition (6th), and structurally deficient bridges (6th).

Florida’s worst rankings are in capital and bridge disbursements (49th) and urban fatality rate (48th).

Florida’s drivers waste 17.58 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 37th in the nation.

Florida’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 12th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Florida needs to reduce its costs and lower its fatality rate,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state’s roadways have generally smooth pavement, although urban Interstate pavement quality is only average. But the very high costs are a problem. Additionally, while the state has taken steps to reduce the fatality rate, it remains very high, particularly for a heavily urbanized state.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Florida’s overall highway performance is worse than Georgia (ranks 14th), South Carolina (ranks 23rd), and Alabama (ranks 28th).

Florida ranks behind other comparable states, like Texas (ranks 16th) and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th).

Florida either excels in a category or struggles with it. The state is in the top 10 for three of the four pavement categories and in structurally deficient bridges. But it is in the bottom 10 in three of the four disbursement categories and all three of the fatality rate categories.

The state spends more than three times as much on a mile of roadway as Georgia and Texas. Clearly the state values high-quality pavement. But in order to lower the costs it might be better to extend the time frame between repavings. And while the state cannot easily improve the quality of driving, it could improve enforcement and ensure its roads are designed to minimize fatalities by decreasing the difference between the roadway speed limit and roadway design speed.

Florida is one of five states that spend more than $100,000 per mile on capital and bridge disbursements. The other four are New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland.

Florida is one of nine states that spend more than $200,000 per mile on total disbursements. The others are New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, Connecticut, and Washington.

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