Policy Study

New York Ranks 46th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

New York’s highway system ranks 46th in the nation in overall cost- effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a two-spot decline from the previous report, where New York ranked 44th.

New York ranks in the bottom 15 nationally in 10 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 York spends $373,555 per mile of state- controlled road, which is $250,033 more than Illinois, $271,316 more than California, $130,958 more than Florida, and $298,402 more than Texas spends per mile.

In safety and performance categories, New York ranks 6th in overall fatality rate, 40th in structurally deficient bridges, 47th in traffic congestion, 46th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 39th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

New York spends $373,555 per mile of state-controlled road. New York is 49th in total spending per mile and 47th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

New York’s best rankings are in overall fatality rate (6th) and urban fatality rate (10th).

New York’s worst rankings are total disbursements per mile (49th) and maintenance disbursements per mile (48th).

New York commuters spend 53.60 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 47th nationally.

New York’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 15th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, New York 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 ranks in the bottom 10 in spending in all four disbursement categories but still ranks in the bottom 15 in all four pavement condition categories as well as in percent structurally deficient bridges,” 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 York to reduce its spending, if the state could improve its pavement and bridge 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 York’s overall highway performance is better than New Jersey (ranks 50th) but worse than Vermont (ranks 13th) or Connecticut (ranks 31st).

New York is doing worse than comparable states like Pennsylvania (ranks 39th) and Illinois (ranks 40th).

While costs in New York are higher than in some other parts of the country, New York still spends three times as much per mile as peer state Illinois and almost four times as much per mile as peer state Pennsylvania. And spending this money isn’t resulting in high-quality roads. New York’s pavement condition and bridge condition are poor, with all four pavement categories and the percentage of structurally deficient bridges ranking in the bottom 15 in the nation. In contrast, peer states Illinois and Pennsylvania have pavement and bridge conditions closer to the national average. New York is remarkable for how poorly it ranks in so many categories. While five states have worse overall rankings, no other state ranks in the bottom 15 of all states in 10 categories.

New York is one of nine states that spend more than $200,000 per lane-mile on overall disbursements. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, Connecticut, and Washington are the others.

New York is one of five states that spend more than $100,000 per lane-mile on capital and bridge disbursements. New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island, and Maryland are the others.

New York is one of three states that spend more than $50,000 per lane-mile on maintenance disbursements. New Jersey and Washington are the others.

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

New York is one of five states where automobile commuters spend more than 40 hours annually stuck in peak-hour traffic congestion. New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, 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.