Think tank ranks U.S. highways from best to worst

WASHINGTON — For the ninth straight year, North Dakota was named the U.S. state with the best performing highway systems by free market think tank, The Reason Foundation.

The Reason Foundation study — which measures each state’s road conditions and expenditures as well as congestion, pavement condition, and fatalities — also found that Alaska had the worst-performing, least cost-effective highway system.

Delaware experienced the largest jump in rankings, moving from 28th to 11th by cutting spending without sacrificing road condition. Michigan moved up to 30th from 42nd, thanks to an improvement in rural pavement condition.

Four states fell in the overall rankings by double-digits including Missouri, Oregon, Vermont and Indiana, which fell 16 spots because of a sharp decline in urban interstate condition and an increase in spending per mile.

"This year’s report shows the difficulties that many states are having when it comes to making across-the-board progress in road conditions," said David Hartgen, lead author of the highway report and senior fellow at Reason Foundation. "In many cases, we see two steps forward, one step back. We saw improvement in five key categories in 2007, but also found that over a quarter of the nation’s bridges are rated deficient. Urban interstate conditions are worsening again. And real progress in reducing urban congestion has slowed to a crawl."

While the total amount of spending on state highways grew 10 percent to over $109 billion in 2007, a greater amount of that spending never made it to roads, according to the study. 

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