Policy Study

Louisiana Ranks 35th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Louisiana’s highway system ranks 35th 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 Louisiana ranked 31st.

Louisiana ranks in the bottom 15 nationally in seven of the report’s 13 metrics. The state’s pavement quality and percentage of structurally deficient bridges are disproportionately bad and the biggest driver of its poor overall rankings. While not every highway can be free of potholes, Louisiana has twice as much urban Interstate pavement in poor condition as Arkansas and four times as much as Mississippi. The comparison for bridge quality isn’t much better. Louisiana has one and one half as many structurally deficient bridges as Mississippi and four times as many as Arkansas.

In safety and performance categories, Louisiana ranks 43rd in overall fatality rate, 45th in structurally deficient bridges, 39th in traffic congestion, 49th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 43rd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Louisiana spends $41,800 per mile of state-controlled road. Louisiana is 15th in total spending per mile and 12th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Louisiana’s best rankings are in administrative disbursements (7th) and capital and bridge disbursements (12th).

Louisiana’s worst rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (49th) and structurally deficient bridges (45th).

Louisiana drivers spend more 20.35 hours per year peak hour traffic congestion, ranking 39th.

Louisiana’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 14th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Louisiana needs to direct more resources toward its highway system. The state is one of the few that spends relatively little and has very poor system conditions. All nine of Louisiana’s performance rankings are average or poor. In eight of the nine the state ranks 38th or lower,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Additional resources are not the only need. The state needs to prioritize fixing its pavement quality and bridges.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Louisiana’s overall highway performance is better than Oklahoma (ranks 36th) but worse than Texas (ranks 16th) and Alabama (ranks 28th).

Louisiana ranks behind comparable states like Mississippi (ranks 15th) and Arkansas (ranks 17th).

Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi all spend about the same amount of money on their highway systems. Yet, while Arkansas’ average performance rank is 29th and Mississippi’s average performance rank is 30th, Louisiana’s average is 40th. In fact, Louisiana ranks in the bottom 15 of all states in eight categories. Louisiana could examine how Arkansas and Mississippi are able to get better quality highways and bridges at an equivalent cost. The state may also need to add resources to improve its system.

Louisiana is one of four states that reported more than 10% of their urban Interstate mileage to be in poor condition. Hawaii, Delaware, and New Jersey 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.