Policy Study

Connecticut Ranks 5th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Connecticut’s highway system ranks 5th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 26-spot improvement from 31st in the previous report. However, some categories in the report cannot be compared to previous years due to methodological changes that also impacted some states’ overall rankings. These changes are fully explained in Part 2 and the appendix of the full report.

Connecticut ranks in the bottom 10 states in urbanized area congestion. Connecticut’s 30.2 hours spent in auto congestion is a lot, but still fewer hours than those endured by either Rhode Island’s or New Jersey’s drivers. 

In safety and performance categories, Connecticut ranks 25th in rural fatality rate, 11th in urban fatality rate, 22nd in structurally deficient bridges, 42nd in traffic congestion, 8th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 13th in rural Interstate pavement condition. 

The state ranks 12th in capital and bridge costs per mile and 16th in maintenance spending per mile.

Connecticut’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (8th), and other disbursements per lane-mile (9th). 

Connecticut’s worst rankings are in urbanized area congestion (42nd) and urban arterial pavement condition (28th).

Connecticut’s drivers waste 30.2 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 42nd in the nation. 

Connecticut’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 44th largest highway system in the country.

“To continue to improve in the report’s overall rankings, Connecticut needs to improve its urban arterial pavement condition and to reduce its traffic congestion somewhat,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Connecticut has improved its system significantly over the past five years, but there is always room for more improvement. 

Additional Analysis 

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, other) per mile.

Compared to nearby states, Connecticut’s overall highway performance is better than New York (ranks 49th), Massachusetts (ranks 20th), and New Hampshire (ranks 14th). 

Connecticut is doing better than other comparable states, such as New Jersey (ranks 44th) and others like Rhode Island (ranks 42nd). 

Connecticut ranks 5th, a ranking that is high for a small-in-geographic-size northeastern state. Connecticut benefitted from the report’s change in calculating spending. Yet other states also benefitted from the change in methodology and managed to post smaller gains in the rankings or in some cases losses. Part of Connecticut’s large jump is due to other categorical improvements including smoother Interstate highway pavement and lower fatality rates in all three categories. The state still has room for improvement; the urbanized area congestion is in the bottom 10 of all states. Still, considering its location, Connecticut spends a modest amount of resources for a high-quality roadway system. 

Connecticut is one of nine states where automobile commuters spend more than 30 hours annually stuck in peak-hour traffic congestion. New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Rhode Island, Illinois, California, and Delaware are the others.

Connecticut is one of eight states that improved in the overall rankings by at least 10 spots from the previous report. The other states are Florida, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Maryland, Alabama, Illinois, and Georgia.

*2021 data
The Annual Highway Report is based on spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government and urban congestion data from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute for 2020 as well as bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2021. For more details on the calculation of each of the 13 performance measures used in the report, as well as the overall performance measure, please refer to the appendix in the main report. The report’s dataset includes Interstate, federal, and state roads, but not county or local roads. All rankings are based on performance measures that are ratios rather than absolute values: the financial measures are disbursements per mile, the fatality rate is fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel, the urban congestion measure is the annual delay per auto commuter, and the others are percentages. For example, the state ranking 1st in structurally deficient bridges has the smallest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, not the smallest number of structurally deficient bridges.