Policy Study

New Mexico Ranks 27th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

New Mexico’s highway system ranks 27th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is an 11-spot decline from the previous report, where New Mexico ranked 16th.

New Mexico ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in all three of the fatality categories. New Mexico’s overall fatality rate is 1.5 times higher than Nevada’s and twice as high as Utah’s. New Mexico’s rural fatality rate is comparable to Nevada’s and Utah’s. However, the state’s urban fatality rate is 2.5 times higher than Nevada’s and three times higher than Utah’s.

In safety and performance categories, New Mexico ranks 48th in overall fatality rate, 20th in structurally deficient bridges, 6th in traffic congestion, 24th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 30th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

New Mexico spends $33,094 per mile of state-controlled road. New Mexico is 7th in total spending per mile and 5th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

New Mexico’s best rankings are in maintenance disbursements per mile (1st) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (5th).

New Mexico’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (50th) and overall fatality rate (48th).

New Mexico commuters spend 5.19 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 6th nationally.

New Mexico’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 21st largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, New Mexico needs to reduce all three of its fatality rates. The state ranks 48th in overall fatality rate, 41st in rural fatality rate, and 50th in urban fatality rate. These are the only categories where the state ranks in the bottom 10. New Mexico is one of only three states that rank in the bottom 10 in all three fatality rates,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “New Mexico’s 11-spot decline from the previous report is due to the increase in fatality rates.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, New Mexico’s overall highway performance is better than Arizona (ranks 29th) and Colorado (ranks 37th) but worse than Texas (ranks 16th).

New Mexico is doing better than comparable states like Utah (ranks 6th) and Nevada (ranks 20th).

New Mexico’s high overall fatality rates overshadow an otherwise good system. Costs are relatively low and pavement quality is satisfactory. Traffic congestion is mostly non- existent. The state finishes in the top 10 in four categories. If New Mexico is able to reduce its fatality rate even slightly, it will move back into the top 20 overall.

New Mexico is one of three states that have overall fatality rates of 1.5 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles. The others are Mississippi and South Carolina.

New Mexico is one of 11 states that have urban fatality rates of 1.0 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles. Arizona, Florida, Alaska, Tennessee, Hawaii, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas are the others.

New Mexico is one of four states that declined in the overall rankings by at least 10 spots from the previous report. Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina also made double-digit declines.

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.