Policy Study

New Hampshire Ranks 19th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

New Hampshire’s highway system ranks 19th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 10-spot improvement from the previous report, in which the state ranked 29th.

New Hampshire ranks in the bottom 12 in both administrative disbursements per mile and rural arterial pavement quality. New Hampshire’s administrative disbursements are nine times higher than peer state Maine, although they are equivalent to peer state Vermont.

Rural arterial pavement quality is another mixed bag; New Hampshire has more poor pavement than Vermont but less than Maine.

In safety and performance categories, New Hampshire ranks 5th in overall fatality rate, 32nd in structurally deficient bridges, 24th in traffic congestion, 2nd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

New Hampshire spends $71,214 per mile of state-controlled road. New Hampshire is 22nd in total spending per mile and 20th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

New Hampshire’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and urban Interstate pavement condition (2nd).

New Hampshire’s worst rankings are administrative disbursements per mile (44th) and rural arterial pavement quality (39th).

New Hampshire commuters spend 8.10 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 24th nationally.

New Hampshire’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 47th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, New Hampshire needs to improve its administrative efficiency and reduce the percentage of arterial miles with poor pavement. New Hampshire lags its peer states somewhat in these metrics,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The overall quality of New Hampshire’s system is good, especially for the relatively high-cost Northeast. Over the last year, the state has significantly reduced its overall fatality rate. New Hampshire does not have many weaknesses but by improving in the administrative costs and rural arterial pavement quality categories, the state can move into the top 15.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, New Hampshire’s overall highway performance is better than Connecticut (ranks 31st), Massachusetts (ranks 43rd), and New York (ranks 46th).

New Hampshire is doing better than some comparable states like Maine (ranks 33rd) but worse than others such as Vermont (ranks 13th).

New Hampshire has the second highest ranking of any state in the Northeast. And the reason is straightforward. The state is able to have good pavement quality and a low fatality rate at a moderate cost. No other state in the Northeast better balances disbursements and performance. Some states struggle with both.

New Hampshire is one of six states that improved in the overall rankings by at least 10 spots from the previous report. Wyoming, Virginia, Vermont, Georgia, and Utah also made double-digit improvements.

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.