Policy Study

Idaho Ranks 8th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Idaho’s highway system ranks 8th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three-spot decline from 5th in the previous report.

Idaho ranks in the bottom 20 of all states in overall fatality rate and rural fatality rate. However, Idaho’s overall fatality rates and rural fatality rates of 1.24 and 1.53 are either equivalent to or better than peer state Montana’s rates (1.43, 1.54) and peer state Wyoming’s rates (1.44, 1.92).

In safety and performance categories, Idaho ranks 32nd in overall fatality rate, 23rd in structurally deficient bridges, 16th in traffic congestion, 3rd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Idaho spends $68,482 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 21th in total spending per mile and 25th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Idaho’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and urban Interstate pavement condition (3rd).

Idaho’s worst rankings are in rural fatality rate (36th) and overall fatality rate (32nd).

Idaho’s drivers waste 6.43 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 16th in the nation.

Idaho’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 41st largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Idaho could reduce its overall fatality rate, rural fatality rate, and 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 is doing well in all of the other categories.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Idaho’s overall highway performance is better than Oregon (ranks 25th) and Washington (ranks 42nd) but worse than Utah (ranks 6th).

Idaho ranks ahead of other comparable states, like Montana (ranks 11th) and Wyoming (ranks 12th).

For many years Idaho has ranked in the top 10 of the Annual Highway Report. What is the state’s secret? The state does not have any rankings in the bottom 10 overall, one of just six states with that distinction. But what might be more impressive is that 10 of the state’s 13 rankings are in the top 25, with one of the other three in the 20s. Idaho is one of only three states with that distinction. The states that tend to do best in the report are not necessarily those states that rank first in any one category, but rather the states with no poor rankings.
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.