Policy Study

Illinois Ranks 40th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Illinois’ highway system ranks 40th 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 37th in the previous report.

The state ranks in the bottom half of all states in nine of the 13 rankings. Illinois’ 64.01 hours of traffic congestion is 1.5 times more than peer state Michigan and 11 times more than peer state Ohio. The state’s 2.25% of rural arterial pavement in poor condition is three times more than Michigan and 3.5 times more than Ohio. Illinois’ 6.39% of urban Interstate pavement in poor condition is 1.5 times more than Ohio and comparable with Michigan.

In safety and performance categories, Illinois ranks 13th in overall fatality rate, 37th in structurally deficient bridges, 48th in traffic congestion, 41st in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 27th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

On spending, Illinois spends $123,522 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 39th in total spending per mile and 40th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Illinois’ best rankings are in overall fatality rate (13th) and rural fatality rate (15th).

Illinois’ worst rankings are in urbanized area congestion (48th) and rural arterial pavement condition (42nd).

Illinois’ drivers waste 64.01 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 48th in the nation.

Illinois’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 13th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Illinois needs to have its above average spending translate into better system quality. Currently the state is in the bottom 15 in three of the four pavement categories as well as structurally deficient bridges, and in the bottom 10 in two of the pavement categories as well as urban traffic congestion,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state’s lone bright spot is its low fatality rates.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Illinois’ overall highway performance is worse than Missouri (ranks 3rd), Wisconsin (ranks 26th), and Indiana (ranks 32nd).

Illinois ranks behind other comparable states, like Ohio (ranks 24th) and Michigan (ranks 34th).

Illinois’ spending more than its peer states of Ohio and Michigan on its system would not be a problem if it led to a smoother pavement, less traffic congestion, and a lower percentage of structurally deficient bridges. But that is not the case. While the state’s pavement condition is comparable to peer states, Illinois’ traffic congestion is worse (64.01 hours of delay compared to 42.07 for Michigan and 5.68 for Ohio) and it has a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges (8.97% compared to 5.36% for Ohio).

Illinois is one of five states where automobile commuters spend more than 40 hours annually stuck in peak-hour traffic congestion. New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Michigan are the other four.
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.