Policy Study

Hawaii Ranks 47th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Hawaii’s highway system ranks 47th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a five-spot decrease from 42nd in the previous report.

Hawaii ranks in the bottom 10 of all states in seven of 12 categories (Hawaii has no rural Interstate mileage). The state’s pavement quality is very poor, among the worst in the country and the primary driver for the state’s low ranking. The state ranks last in urban Interstate pavement condition. Almost a quarter of the state’s urban Interstate pavement condition is in poor condition, 19 times the percentage of peer state Alaska.

In safety and performance categories, Hawaii ranks 17th in overall fatality rate, 26th in structurally deficient bridges, 18th in traffic congestion, and 50th in urban Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Hawaii spends $155,728 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 41st in total spending per mile and 45th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Hawaii’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate (17th) and traffic congestion (18th).

Hawaii’s worst rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (50th) and rural fatality rate (50th).

Hawaii’s drivers waste 6.69 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 18th in the nation.

Hawaii’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 50th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Hawaii needs to have its high spending translate into better pavement quality as well as a lower rural fatality rate and urban fatality rate. For example, while the state ranks in the bottom 15 for three of the four disbursement rankings, it also ranks in the bottom 10 for all three pavement quality rankings (Hawaii has no rural Interstates) and for rural and urban fatality rates,” said Baruch

Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state needs to find a way to make its system somewhat more efficient.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Hawaii’s overall highway performance is worse than Oregon (ranks 25th) and Arizona (ranks 29th) but better than California (ranks 45th).

Hawaii ranks behind other comparable states, like New Hampshire (ranks 19th) but ahead of others such as Alaska (ranks 48th).

As a series of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii’s travel patterns are different from the 48 mainland states. The state’s high costs could be forgiven if they resulted in good pavement quality and a safe system. The state spends more than two times what New Hampshire spends and 1.5 times what Alaska spends. But the results are not great. While New Hampshire has no poor pavement, 23.64% of Hawaii’s pavement is poor, which is also 19 times more than Alaska. Further, the state’s rural fatality rate is more than double the next worst state, Nevada, 2.5 times the rate of Alaska and 3.5 times the rate of New Hampshire.

Hawaii is one of four states that reported more than 10% of their urban Interstate pavement in poor condition. Louisiana, Delaware, and New Jersey are the others.

Hawaii is one of five states that reported more than 5% of their rural other principal arterial mileage in poor condition. Alaska, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maine are the others.

Hawaii is one of five states that have rural fatality rates of 2.0 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles. Nevada, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska are the others.

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