Policy Study

Maine Ranks 33rd in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Maine’s highway system ranks 33rd in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an eight-spot decline from the previous report, where Maine ranked 25th.

Maine’s two biggest weaknesses are rural arterial pavement condition and structurally deficient bridges. Maine has four times as much poor condition rural arterial pavement as peer states New Hampshire and Vermont. Maine has 1.5 times the percentage of structurally deficient bridges as New Hampshire and six times as many as Vermont.

In safety and performance categories, Maine ranks 23rd in overall fatality rate, 44th in structurally deficient bridges, 30th in traffic congestion, 4th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 37th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Maine spends $49,204 per mile of state-controlled road. Maine is 17th in total spending per mile and 16th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Maine’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (4th) and urban fatality rate (5th).

Maine’s worst rankings are in rural arterial pavement condition (46th) and structurally deficient bridges (44th).

Maine commuters spend 10.75 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 30th nationally.

Maine’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 35th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Maine needs to improve its pavement conditions and reduce is percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The state ranks in the bottom 20 states of three of the four pavement categories and bottom six states in deficient bridges. The state does have low disbursements but they are offset by the poor overall quality of the system,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Maine needs to find a way to improve its system quality even if it comes at a somewhat higher cost.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Maine’s overall highway performance is better than Massachusetts (ranks 43rd) and New York (ranks 46th) but worse than Connecticut (ranks 31st).

Maine ranks behind comparable states like Vermont (ranks 13th) and New Hampshire (ranks 19th).

Maine is a state that tends to ping pong in the rankings, ranking highly one year and poorly another. Over the last two years the state has fallen from 4th to 33rd. The biggest change over that two-year period has been in pavement quality. Rural Interstate pavement quality has fallen from 1st to 37th. Rural arterial pavement quality has fallen from 7th to 46th.

Combined with the poor condition of Maine’s bridges, the state has moved from being a top five state to one that ranks below average.

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