Policy Study

Minnesota Ranks 18th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Minnesota’s highway system ranks 18th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three-spot decline from the previous report, where Minnesota ranked 15th overall.

Minnesota’s high ranking stems from the state being top-six in all three fatality categories, an impressive ranking for a large-geographic state with a low-population density outside of the Twin Cities. Minnesota benefits from having four categories rank in the top 10 and no categories rank below 35. Often a lack of bad rankings benefits a state’s overall ranking more than many top rankings.

In safety and performance categories, Minnesota ranks 2nd in overall fatality rate, 13th in structurally deficient bridges, 28th in traffic congestion, 35th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 35th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Minnesota spends $80,561 per mile of state-controlled road. Minnesota is 27th in total spending per mile and 23rd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Minnesota’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate (2nd) and urban fatality rate (2nd).

Minnesota’s worst rankings are rural Interstate pavement condition (35th) and urban Interstate pavement condition (35th).

Minnesota’s commuters spend 8.67 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 28th in the country.

Minnesota’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 22nd largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Minnesota needs to improve its Interstate pavement quality. The state ranks 35th in both rural Interstate and urban Interstate pavement quality. The state ranks 25th in rural arterial and 7th in urban arterial pavement quality, so clearly the state can deliver smooth roadways,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “It might be as simple as prioritizing maintenance over other expenditures.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Minnesota’s overall highway performance is better than Iowa (ranks 22nd) but worse than North Dakota (ranks 1st) and South Dakota (ranks 9th).

Minnesota is doing better than comparable states like Wisconsin (ranks 26th) and Michigan (ranks 34th).

Minnesota operates a high-quality highway system that outperforms peer states Michigan and Wisconsin. Minnesota’s strength is a low fatality rate, unusual for a state with large rural areas. The state’s weakness is Interstate pavement, which ranked 35th, and could be improved. If Minnesota could improve its Interstate pavement, it could be a top-15 state.”
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.