Policy Study

Oregon Ranks 25th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Oregon’s highway system ranks 25th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a three-spot improvement from the previous report, where Oregon ranked 28th.

Oregon ranks in the bottom 15 nationally in overall fatality rate and overall disbursements. Oregon’s overall fatality rate of 1.37 is approximately twice as high as peer states Utah, 0.75, and Washington, 0.83. This means that for every 100 million vehicle-miles driven more than twice as many Oregon drivers are losing their lives as Utah and Washington drivers. Oregon’s overall disbursements are higher than Utah’s but lower than Washington’s.

In safety and performance categories, Oregon ranks 39thth in overall fatality rate, 17th in structurally deficient bridges, 36th in traffic congestion, 22nd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 12th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Oregon spends $108,880 per mile of state-controlled road. Oregon is 38th in total spending per mile and 29th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Oregon’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (12th) and rural arterial pavement condition (14th).

Oregon’s worst rankings are in overall fatality rate (39th) and total disbursements per mile (38th).

Oregon commuters spend 17.01 hours time stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 36th nationally.

Oregon’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 33rd largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the rankings, Oregon needs to have its spending translate into less traffic congestion and a lower overall fatality rate. Oregon’s total spending is in the bottom 15 of all states. This ranking wouldn’t be a problem if the state had a lower level of traffic congestion and better fatality rates. But the state ranks in the bottom 20 in urbanized area congestion and all three fatality rates,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “On the other hand, the state has good quality pavement and a low percentage of structurally deficient bridges.”

Additional Analysis

Compared to nearby states, Oregon’s overall highway performance is better than California (ranks 45th) but worse than Idaho (ranks 8th) and Nevada (ranks 20th).

Oregon is doing better than some comparable states like Washington (ranks 42nd) but worse than others such as Utah (ranks 6th).

Oregon is the definition of a perfectly average state. It has no rankings in the top 10 but none in the bottom 10 either. The state has smooth road pavement and a low percentage of structurally deficient bridges but high fatality rates and significant traffic congestion. Given the state’s average to slightly above average costs, it needs to find a way to reduce traffic congestion and fatality rates. Its fatality rates lag significantly behind Utah, a state with which it has many similarities.
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.