Policy Study

Ohio Ranks 24th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Ohio’s highway system ranks 24th 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 Ohio ranked 13th.

Ohio ranks in the bottom 15 states nationally in administrative disbursements and urban arterial pavement condition. Ohio spends $12,342 per lane-mile on administrative disbursements. This is approximately three times the $4,219 that peer state Illinois spends, and three times the $4,647 that peer state Michigan spends. More than 16% of all of Ohio’s urban arterial pavement is in poor condition. The state has 1.5 times as much poor urban arterial pavement as Illinois but approximately the same amount as Michigan.

In safety and performance categories, Ohio ranks 19th in overall fatality rate, 19th in structurally deficient bridges, 11th in traffic congestion, 32nd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 28th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Ohio spends $80,409 per mile of state-controlled road. Ohio is 26th in total spending per mile and 22nd in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Ohio’s best rankings are in urbanized area congestion (11th) and rural fatality rate (11th).

Ohio’s worst rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (42nd) and urban arterial pavement condition (40th).

Ohio commuters spend 5.68 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 11th nationally.

Ohio’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 10th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Ohio needs to reduce its administrative disbursements or have those costs translate into better system performance. The state’s disbursements are three times higher than Ohio’s peer states. The state also needs to improve its urban arterial

pavement condition,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Ohio’s administrative costs have increased significantly from the last report. The state’s three fatality rates have increased slightly as well.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Ohio’s overall highway performance is better than Indiana (ranks 32nd) and Pennsylvania (ranks 39th) but worse than Kentucky (ranks 4th).

Ohio is doing better than comparable states like Michigan (ranks 34th) and Illinois (ranks 40th).

While Ohio’s 24th-place ranking is above average, it is an 11-spot decline from the state’s 13th place ranking in the previous report. For several years, Ohio was the top-ranked large population state (defined as a population of 10 million or more). But this year North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas all rank higher. Why the sudden change? The biggest culprit is Ohio’s administrative costs per lane-mile, which increased 129% from $5,390 to $12,342.

This could represent a large increase in personnel or be parked funds (revenue used for a multi-year project). Regardless, it is a large increase and the biggest factor in Ohio’s decline in the rankings. Another factor is the state’s fatality rates. Overall fatality rate, rural fatality rate, and urban fatality rate each increased about 10%, in one year, while the nation’s overall fatality rate decreased.

Ohio is one of four states that declined in the overall rankings by 10 spots or more from the previous report. South Carolina, New Mexico, and Michigan are the others.

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.