Policy Study

Florida Ranks 8th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Florida’s highway system ranks 8th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a 33-spot improvement from 41st 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.

Florida ranks in the bottom 10 in three of the 13 performance metrics. The state’s 1.36 capital and bridge disbursement per lane-mile ratio is 1.5 times higher than Pennsylvania’s ratio and 1.2 times higher than Texas’ ratio. The state’s rural fatality rate of 1.79 is 2.2 times higher than peer state Pennsylvania’s rate and 1.2 times higher than Texas’ rate. Florida’s urban fatality rate of 1.55 is 1.5 times higher than Pennsylvania’s rate and 1.4 times higher than Texas’ rate.

In safety and performance categories, Florida ranks 45th in rural fatality rate, 49th in urban fatality rate, 8th in structurally deficient bridges, 18th in traffic congestion, 9th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition. 

The state ranks 43rd in capital and bridge costs per mile and 29th in maintenance spending per mile.

Florida’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (2nd). 

Florida’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (49th) and rural fatality rate (45th). 

Florida’s drivers waste 18.8 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 18th in the nation. 

Florida’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 12th largest highway system in the country.

“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Florida needs to reduce its rural and urban fatality rates, as well as reduce its high capital and bridge spending,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “The state’s roadways have generally smooth pavement, and the state’s per mile disbursements are average to high. However, the rural and urban fatality rates remain very high, particularly for a heavily urbanized state.” 

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, Florida’s overall highway performance is worse than South Carolina (ranks 6th), Georgia (ranks 4th), but better than Alabama (ranks 15th). 

Florida ranks ahead of other comparable states, such as Texas (ranks 19th) and others like Pennsylvania (ranks 41st). 

Florida either excels in a category or struggles with it. The state is in the top 10 for each of the four pavement categories and in structurally deficient bridges. Despite benefitting from how the report calculated spending, Florida is still in the bottom 10 states in capital and bridge disbursements. It is also in the bottom 10 states in two of the three fatality rate categories. With all four pavement category rankings in the top 10, other states could learn from Florida’s practices. But with continual year-over-year problems with high fatality rates, Florida could learn from peer states Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as neighboring state Georgia. 

Florida is one of 25 states that have urban fatality rates of 1.0 per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled or higher. The other 24 states are New Mexico, Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Wyoming, Delaware, Missouri, Alaska, Kentucky, Hawaii, Alabama, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Nevada, South Dakota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas, and Illinois.

Florida is one of eight states that improved in the overall rankings by at least 10 spots from the previous report. The other states are Connecticut, 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.