Policy Study

Mississippi Ranks 15th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Mississippi’s highway system ranks 15th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a seven-spot decline from the previous report, where Mississippi ranked 8th.

Mississippi benefits from its low system costs, but pavement quality is only average and all three fatality rates are in the bottom 20. Mississippi’s spending is roughly half of peer state Alabama and equivalent to peer state Louisiana. Mississippi has about half the percentage of poor arterial pavement miles as Louisiana but is roughly equivalent to Alabama. Finally, all three states have similarly poor fatality rates.

In safety and performance categories, Mississippi ranks 49th in overall fatality rate, 33rd in structurally deficient bridges, 13th in traffic congestion, 26th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 26th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Mississippi spends $36,473 per mile of state-controlled road. Mississippi is 13th in total spending per mile and 15th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Mississippi’s best rankings are in maintenance disbursements (4th) and administrative disbursements (10th).

Mississippi’s worst rankings are overall fatality rate (49th) and urban fatality rate (36th).

Mississippi’s commuters spend 5.91 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 13th in the country.

Mississippi’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 24th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Mississippi needs to reduce its fatality rate. In the 10 non- fatality rate categories, Mississippi’s lowest ranking is 28th, but in the three fatality rankings, the highest ranking is 35th,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Given that Mississippi is a rural state, it may be difficult for it to match the fatality rate of Massachusetts, but its roadway system will not improve until it reduces the fatality rate somewhat.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Mississippi’s overall highway performance is better than Texas (ranks 16th) and Arkansas (ranks 17th) but worse than Tennessee (ranks 10th).

Mississippi is doing better than comparable states like Alabama (ranks 28th) and Louisiana (ranks 35th).

While no rural state is ever going to lead the country in fatality rate, Mississippi needs to have a better showing than 49th, 35th, and 36th. Of the 10 non-fatality ratings, Mississippi’s lowest ranking is 33rd in structurally deficient bridges. Of the three fatality rankings, Mississippi’s highest rating is 35th in rural fatality rate. Reducing the fatality rate would vault the state into the top 10 in the overall rankings.

Mississippi is one of three states with an overall fatality rate higher than 1.5 per 100 million vehicle-miles. New Mexico and South Carolina are the other two states.

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.