Policy Study

Michigan Ranks 34th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Michigan’s highway system ranks 34th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 10-spot decline from the previous report, where Michigan ranked 24th.

Michigan ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in five of the report’s 13 metrics. The state ranks in the bottom 10 in three of the four pavement categories, traffic congestion, and structurally deficient bridges. Michigan’s percentage of poor rural Interstate mileage is twice as high as Illinois’ and Ohio’s. Michigan has 1.5 times as high a percentage of urban Interstate mileage as Illinois and twice as high as Ohio. Michigan also has a higher percentage of urban arterial mileage in poor condition and structurally deficient bridges as Illinois and Ohio.

In safety and performance categories, Michigan ranks 14th in overall fatality rate, 43rd in structurally deficient bridges, 46th in traffic congestion, 45th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 42nd in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Michigan spends $92,547 per mile of state-controlled road. Michigan is 32nd in total spending per mile and 35th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Michigan’s best rankings are in rural fatality rate (7th) and overall fatality rate (14th).

Michigan’s worst rankings are in urbanized area congestion (46th) and urban Interstate pavement condition (45th).

Michigan commuters spend 42.07 hours per year in peak hour traffic congestion, ranking 46th nationally.

Michigan’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 25th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Michigan needs to improve its pavement quality, reduce its traffic congestion, and reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges. Despite not having a metro area that ranks in the top 10 for population, Michigan has the fifth worst traffic congestion in the country,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Michigan is one of the few states that could benefit from spending slightly more on its highway system to improve the overall condition. Michigan’s 34th place ranking lags Ohio 24th place rating but beats Illinois’ 40th place ranking.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Michigan’s overall highway performance is worse than Wisconsin (ranks 26th), Indiana (ranks 32nd), and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th).

Michigan is doing better than some comparable states like Illinois (ranks 40th) but worse than others such as Ohio (ranks 24th).

While costs in Michigan are higher than in some other parts of the country and the infrastructure is older, the state still needs to do better than placing in the bottom 10 in five of the nine performance categories. Michigan spends about the same amount as Illinois and more than Ohio for road pavement, bridges, and traffic congestion. Yet its pavement and bridge quality is worse than its peer states.

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

Michigan is one of four states that declined in the rankings by at least 10 spots compared with the previous report. New Mexico, Ohio, and South Carolina 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.