Policy Study

Wyoming Ranks 16th in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Wyoming’s highway system ranks 16th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation. This is a four-spot decline from the previous report, where Wyoming ranked 12th overall. However, some categories in the report cannot be compared to previous years due to methodological changes that also impacted some state’s overall rankings. These changes are fully explained in Part 2 and the appendix of the full report.

Wyoming ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in urban Interstate pavement condition and urban fatality rate. Almost 7% (6.70%) of Wyoming’s urban Interstate pavement is in poor condition, four times worse than peer state Idaho’s percent and 3.9 times worse than peer state Montana’s percent. Wyoming’s urban fatality rate of 1.37 is 2.6 times worse than Idaho’s rate and 1.7 times more than Montana’s rate.

In safety and performance categories, Wyoming ranks 34th in rural fatality rate, 44th in urban fatality rate, 32nd in structurally deficient bridges, 1st in traffic congestion, 41st in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 31st in rural Interstate pavement condition. 

Wyoming is 26th in capital and bridge spending per mile and 25th in maintenance spending per mile.

Wyoming’s best rankings are in urbanized area congestion (1st) and rural arterial pavement condition (4th).

Wyoming’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (44th) and urban Interstate pavement condition (41st). 

Wyoming commuters spend 6.5 hours stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 1st nationally. 

Wyoming’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 38th largest highway system in the country. 

“To improve in the rankings, Wyoming needs to improve its urban Interstate pavement condition and reduce its urban fatality rates further. The state ranks in the bottom 10 in both rankings. While rural states tend to have higher fatality rates, any bottom 10 ranking is a problem. If Wyoming was able to improve its fatality rates to near average, the state would move into the top 10 in the overall rankings,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. 

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, Wyoming’s overall highway performance is better than Nebraska (ranks 26th) and Colorado (ranks 43rd) but worse than Utah (ranks 10th). 

Wyoming is doing better than comparable states such as Montana (ranks 25th) and others like Idaho (ranks 34th). 

Wyoming is a typical intermountain state. Overall costs are medium-high, pavement and bridge quality is good to average, and the fatality rates are high. Wyoming is ranked in the top half of all states in five of 13 rankings. The reason Wyoming is not in the top 10 states overall is urban pavement condition and urban fatality rate. Improving each of those rankings only slightly will vault the state into the top 10. 

Wyoming 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 Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Delaware, Missouri, Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, Nevada, South Dakota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, and New Mexico.

*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.