Policy Study

Nevada Ranks 20th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Nevada’s highway system ranks 20th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a seven-spot improvement from the previous report where Nevada ranked 27th.

Nevada ranks in the bottom five states nationally in rural fatality rate and administrative disbursements. Nevada’s rural fatality rate is 1.5 times higher than peer states Arizona’s and Utah’s. Nevada’s administrative disbursements per lane-mile of $13,617 is three times Utah’s $4,217 and more than $2,000 higher than Arizona’s $11,236.

In safety and performance categories, Nevada ranks 24th in overall fatality rate, 1st in structurally deficient bridges, 21st in traffic congestion, 11th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 13th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Nevada spends $90,048 per mile of state-controlled road. Nevada is 31st in total spending per mile and 34th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Nevada’s best rankings are in structurally deficient bridges (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (2nd).

Nevada’s worst rankings are in rural fatality rate (49th) and administrative disbursements per mile (46th)

Nevada commuters spend 7.28 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 21st nationally.

Nevada’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 40th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Nevada needs to improve its administrative efficiency and reduce its rural fatality rate. The state’s capital and maintenance costs are reasonable, especially for a highway system with excellent pavement condition and the lowest

percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. However, the maintenance costs seem out of line. Nevada’s overall and urban fatality rates are good, especially compared to peer states Arizona and Utah. But the rural fatality rate is very high. A campaign that addresses why there are so many rural fatalities on the state’s roads might help reduce the rate,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “If Nevada could improve its rural fatality rate and adjust its administrative costs, it could be a top-10 state in the rankings.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Nevada’s overall highway performance is better than Oregon (ranks 25th) and California (ranks 45th) but worse than Idaho (ranks 8th).

Nevada is doing better than some comparable states like Arizona (ranks 29th) but worse than others such as Utah (ranks 6th).

The overall quality of Nevada’s system is good. Pavement quality is excellent and the percentage of structurally deficient bridges is low. But Nevada still ranks 14 places behind peer state and neighbor Utah. The biggest difference is administrative costs and rural fatality rate. If Nevada were able to improve in those rankings a little bit, its overall ranking would rise significantly.

Nevada is one of five states with rural fatality rates of 2.0 or higher per 100 million rural vehicle-miles. The others are Hawaii, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska.

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.