Pavement condition, repair costs place NJ dead last in road study
If you drive in New Jersey, it may not be surprising to you to learn that we have the worst performing highways in the entire country, according to an annual study by the libertarian Reason Foundation.
Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation, said it compared 13 categories looking at overall spending, pavement conditions, traffic congestion and safety to rank the 50 states' highway performances.
He said the data mostly comes from self-reported information from each state to the Federal Highway Administration.
The study found that New Jersey's main issue is that it spent more money on highways than any other state in the nation. Its pavement quality in particular is in poor shape.
New Jersey ranked 40th for congestion on urban highways, 50th in overall spending, last in maintenance spending and last in capital and bridge disbursement. The state did rank 29th in structurally deficient bridges, which is middle-of-the-road.
This is the third time in recent years that the Garden State ranked dead last in the study, previously ranking 50th in 2015 and 2016.
On the bright side, New Jersey's highways did well in safety categories, having the third least fatalities in the country. It had the fourth least fatalities on rural roads and the 23rd least fatalities on urban roads. That means the state's roadways are relatively safe. Some of that has to do with designs of the roadways. For example, the New Jersey Turnpike is designed with wide shoulders and straight stretches, said Feigenbaum.
To improve its ranking, Feigenbaum said if New Jersey could spend slightly less money per mile, that would help. He recognized that it would cost more to build a road in New Jersey than it is in Wyoming, so he does not expect New Jersey's numbers to get down there.
Prioritizing the roadways with the worst pavement quality when the state is looking at which roadways to maintain would go a long way in improving the state's rankings as well, he added.
North Dakota has the best performing roadways in the nation, according to the study. Missouri is second, followed by Kansas, Kentucky and Idaho.
Alaska has the second worst performing highways followed by Delaware Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
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