Policy Study

Kansas Ranks 7th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Kansas’ highway system ranks 7th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway

Report by Reason Foundation. This is a four-spot decrease from the previous report, where Kansas ranked 3rd.

Kansas’ worst rankings are 45th in rural fatality rate and 35th in overall fatality rate. Kansas ranks in the top 30 in the other nine categories. The rural fatality rate is a major problem. Kansas 1.97 rate is almost 50% higher than Nebraska and more than 60% higher than Oklahoma.

In safety and performance categories, Kansas ranks 35th in overall fatality rate, 16th in structurally deficient bridges, 25th in traffic congestion, 29th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 17th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Kansas spends $50,253 per mile of state-controlled road. Kansas is 18th in total spending per mile and 6th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Kansas’ best rankings are in rural arterial pavement condition (5th) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (6th).

Kansas’ worst rankings are rural fatality rate (45th) and overall fatality rate (35th).

Kansas drivers waste 8.42 hours per year in traffic congestion, ranking 25th in the nation.

Kansas’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 27th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Kansas needs to reduce its rural fatality rate and its overall fatality rate. The rural fatality rate is significantly worse than Kansas’ peer states and is preventing the state from placing in the top five in the overall ranking,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “While rural states such as Kansas will have

higher fatality rates than more-urban states such as Massachusetts, Kansas can take steps to reduce the rural fatality rate to near average.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Kansas’ overall highway performance is better than Iowa (ranks 22nd) and Colorado (ranks 37th) but worse than Missouri (ranks 3rd).

Kansas ranks ahead of comparable states like Nebraska (ranks 21st) and Oklahoma (ranks 36th).

With the exception of rural fatality rate and overall fatality rate, Kansas has an excellent highway system. The state’s low overall costs combined with generally smooth pavement and small percentage of structurally deficient bridges give the state its top 10 ranking.

Further, Kansas consistently finishes in the top 10, and does not bounce around in the rankings as some other states. Other Great Plains and midwestern states should learn and emulate Kansas’ best practices.
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.