Policy Study

Maryland Ranks 38th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Maryland’s highway system ranks 38th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three-spot improvement from the previous report, where Maryland ranked 41st.

Maryland ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in five of the report’s 13 metrics. Similar to other states in the Northeast it has relatively high costs, with three of its four disbursement rankings in the bottom 10. Maryland has a very safe system ranking in the top half for all four rankings of the safety metrics. Pavement quality is a mixed bag, with rural pavement quality in average condition and urban pavement in poor condition.

In safety and performance categories, Maryland ranks 12th in overall fatality rate, 15th in structurally deficient bridges, 42nd in traffic congestion, 42nd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 25th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Maryland spends $213,631 per mile of state-controlled road. Maryland is 45th in total spending per mile and 46th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Maryland’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate (5th) and overall fatality rate (12th).

Maryland’s worst rankings are in capital and bridge disbursements per mile (46th) and total disbursements per mile (45th).

Maryland commuters spend 25.04 hours stuck in congestion, ranking 42nd nationally.

Maryland’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 39th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Maryland should try to have its high costs better translate into good urban pavement condition. The state is outperforming its northeastern peer states in most categories but urban pavement condition is a significant weakness,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “While it may be challenging for Maryland to reduce its spending, if the state could improve its urban pavement quality to the national average, it would move up in the overall rankings.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Maryland’s overall highway performance is better than Pennsylvania (ranks 39th) and Delaware (ranks 44th) but worse than Virginia (ranks 2nd).

Maryland is doing better than comparable states like Massachusetts (ranks 43rd) and New Jersey (ranks 50th).

A 38th-place finish is not normally cause for celebration, but Maryland’s peer northeastern states perform worse. An average total disbursement of $213,631 ranks 46th but it is

$132,631 per lane-mile less than Massachusetts and $922,624 per lane-mile less than New Jersey. And Maryland’s rural highway system is in good condition. It has six times fewer poor lane-miles of rural arterial pavement than New Jersey and slightly fewer than Massachusetts. However, urban pavement quality is a weak spot. Maryland has about twice the percentage of poor condition lane-miles of urban Interstate as Massachusetts although a lower percentage than New Jersey.

Maryland is one of five states that have capital and bridge costs that exceed $100,000 per state-controlled lane-mile. The others are New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island, and New York.

Maryland is one of nine states that have total costs that exceed $200,000 per state- controlled lane-mile. The others are New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, and Washington.
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.