Policy Study

New Jersey Ranks 50th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

New Jersey's Rankings in the
26th Annual Highway Report

Total Disbursements per Mile
Capital & Bridge Disbursements per Mile
Maintenance Disbursements per Mile
Administrative Disbursements per Mile
Rural Interstate Pavement Condition
Urban Interstate Pavement Condition
Rural Arterial Pavement Condition
Urban Arterial Pavement Condition
Urbanized Area Congestion
Structurally Deficient Bridges
Overall Fatality Rate
Rural Fatality Rate
Urban Fatality Rate

New Jersey's Overall Ranking in Recent Annual Highway Reports

New Jersey’s highway system ranks 50th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is identical to the previous report, where New Jersey also ranked last overall.

New Jersey ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in eight of the report’s 13 metrics. The state’s costs are disproportionately high and the biggest driver of its poor overall rankings. While some higher costs are understandable, New Jersey spends $1,136,255 per mile of state- controlled road, which is $762,700 more than New York spends per mile and $929,331 more than California spends per mile.

In safety and performance categories, New Jersey ranks 4th in overall fatality rate, 30th in structurally deficient bridges, 50th in traffic congestion, 47th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

New Jersey spends $1,136,255 per mile of state-controlled road, which is the highest in the nation. New Jersey is 50th in total spending per mile and 50th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

New Jersey’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and overall fatality rate (4th).

New Jersey’s worst rankings are total disbursements per mile (50th), capital and bridge disbursements per mile (50th), maintenance disbursements per mile (50th), and urbanized area congestion (50th).

New Jersey commuters spend more time stuck in traffic congestion—over 86 hours per year—than drivers in any other state. Annual peak hours spent in congestion range from

1.75 hours in Utah to 86.14 hours in New Jersey.

New Jersey’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 46th largest highway system in the country.

“To start to improve in the rankings, New Jersey should try to have its high costs better translate into things like good pavement condition, less traffic congestion and fewer deficient bridges. For example, the state spends the most money per mile in three of the four disbursement categories but still ranks in the bottom 10 in three of the four pavement condition categories (urban Interstate, rural arterial, and urban arterial),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “While it may be challenging for New Jersey to reduce its spending, if the state could improve its pavement quality to the national average, it would move up in the overall rankings substantially. As it is, the state has the worst of both worlds: high spending and poor roadways.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, New Jersey’s overall highway performance is worse than New York (ranks 46th), Delaware (ranks 44th), and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th).

New Jersey is doing worse than comparable states like Massachusetts (ranks 43rd) and Maryland (ranks 38th).

While costs in New Jersey are higher than in some other parts of the country, New Jersey still spends three times as much per mile as New York. It also spends three times as much per mile on its highway system as peer states Massachusetts and Maryland. Spending this money isn’t resulting in high-quality roads. New Jersey’s pavement condition is very poor, with three of four pavement categories ranking in the bottom 10 in the nation. In contrast, peer states Maryland and Massachusetts have pavement quality around the national average.

New Jersey is one of five states that have capital and bridge costs that exceed $100,000 per lane-mile. Florida, Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland are the others.

New Jersey is one of five states that have maintenance costs that exceed $40,000 per lane- mile. Washington, New York, California, and Rhode Island are the others.

New Jersey is one of four states that have administrative costs that exceed $15,000 per lane-mile. Delaware, Massachusetts, and Washington are the other three.

New Jersey is one of nine states that have total costs that exceed $200,000 per lane-mile. New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, Connecticut, and Washington are the others.

New Jersey is one of four states that reported more than 10% of their urban Interstate mileage to be in poor condition. Hawaii, Louisiana, and Delaware are the other three.

New Jersey is one of five states that reported more than 5% of their rural other principal arterial pavement to be in poor condition. Alaska, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Maine are the others.

New Jersey is one of six states that reported more than 20% of their urban other principal arterial mileage to be in poor condition. Rhode Island, California, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and New York are the others.

New Jersey is one of five states where automobile commuters spend more than 50 hours annually stuck in peak-hour traffic congestion. Delaware, Illinois, New York, and Michigan are the other four.
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.