Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: States with the worst roads

  1. #1

    States with the worst roads

    Every year when the snow melts, cities, states, and local municipalities make plans to remedy the havoc that winter snow plows and chained tires have wreaked on their roads. As cash-strapped states weigh where their road-repair budgets should go in 2011, MainStreet decided to take a look at the most recent data to determine who had the worst roads in the country.

    To do this, we analyzed four metrics, ranked each state on each indicator, and pooled the results to generate a cumulative ranking for all 50 states (sorry, D.C.). We avoided bringing money into the equation at all, since expenses on road maintenance tell us nothing more than how much money was spent on road repairs. After all, states that spent the most on their roads could be assumed to have the worst (the more repairs are needed, the more money will be spent), but also the best (more money spent on roads means, well, better roads). Instead we looked at:

    Poor-condition mileage. To compare the percentage of each state's roads deemed to be in "poor condition" we looked at 2008 numbers put together in a comprehensive report by the Reason Foundation. We combined the rankings for rural interstates, urban interstates and other rural and urban roads to get a unified ranking for road condition.

    Deficient or obsolete bridges. Because bridges and overpasses make up an important part of roads everywhere, we looked at 2009 bridge condition data (the most recent available) from the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration.

    Fatalities. To get an idea of road safety, we looked at the number of road fatalities per state in 2009 -- measured per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to account for the different lengths of road in each state -- from the Federal Highway Administration.

    Congestion. We again used the Reason Foundation's calculations to determine peak-hour volume-to-capacity ratios on each state's roads.

    1. Louisiana

    Poor-condition mileage rank (1=most): 8 out of 50
    Deficient bridges rank: 12 out of 50
    Fatalities rank: 2 out of 50
    Congestion rank: 23 out of 50

    Nobody can doubt that Louisiana has had a rough decade. Hurricanes were part of the problem, causing material damage and the complications of evacuation and reconstruction, which put additional stress on the road system. The state ranked number two in fatalities in 2009 (after Montana), and high marks for poor-condition roads and bridges give it the dubious honor of having the worst roads in the nation.

    One ray of sunlight is that the feds have responded with extra cash: Louisiana ranks eighth out of 50 states for money allocated to it by the Federal Highway Fund ($54.31 per capita), so rehabilitation of those roads should continue to show progress.

    2. North Carolina

    Poor-condition mileage rank: 16 out of 50
    Deficient bridges rank: 10 out of 50
    Fatalities rank: 18 out of 50
    Congestion rank: 9 out of 50

    The runner-up in the ranking goes to North Carolina, with no standout numbers beyond the picture they paint as a whole: The state places in the worst 20 for all of the indicators, with numbers for deficient bridges and congestion placing in the 10 worst. It might be hard for the state to address its problems too, as it ranks 44 out of 50 states for per-capita fund allocation from the Federal Highway Fund.

    On the plus side, a new program from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to install solar panels to power its airport should free up some cash for much-needed road repairs.

    3. Oklahoma

    Poor-condition mileage rank: 3 out of 50
    Deficient bridges rank: 13 out of 50
    Fatalities rank: 11 out of 50
    Congestion rank: 34 out of 50

    With more than 400 miles of the iconic Route 66 within its borders, Oklahoma has not benefited from the road's historic status to attract more money to its road system. It logs the third-highest amount of poor-condition mileage in the U.S., while its bridges rank 13th. Fatalities are also a problem in the Sooner State, but the authorities are at least addressing the problem head-on, with a 2009 report on road safety that includes pictures of the worst stretches of its roads.

    4. West Virginia

    Poor-condition mileage rank: 12 out of 50
    Deficient bridges rank: 6 out of 50
    Fatalities rank: 4 out of 50
    Congestion rank: 43 out of 50

    West Virginia, despite being able to boast very low levels of traffic congestion, ranks disturbingly high for fatalities and for the condition of its roads and bridges. The state's Department of Transportation makes little mention of these problems, but the multimedia section includes an instructional video on how to properly navigate a roundabout. Perhaps authorities think that lack of knowledge by West Virginia drivers will help improve road safety in the state.

    5. Arkansas

    Poor-condition mileage rank: 10 out of 50
    Deficient bridges rank: 32 out of 50
    Fatalities rank: 5 out of 50
    Congestion rank: 22 out of 50

    At No. 5 is Arkansas, whose 10th-highest percentage of roads in poor condition probably has something to do with it's fifth-highest level of road fatalities in 2009. Thankfully the state is able to throw some money at the problem, as its funds allocated per capita ranked 11th in the nation in 2009.

    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    what is the source for this?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    The Fox Valley
    Posts
    4,929
    Blog entries
    1
    I would have to say Illinois' roads are pretty bad, especially in the Chicagoland area. Luckily, most of the major roads in the state are paved, but due to the insane freeze-thaw cycles seen across much of the state, many of them crack and develop potholes very easily. Additionally, the capacity is terrible in the Chicagoland area, which accounts for some of the longest commuting times in the nation. The amount of expressways is pretty sad, considering it's the third largest metropolitan area in the country. The capacity of our system pales in comparison to smaller metros like Dallas and Minneapolis. Especially deprived of expressway miles are the suburbs, particularly the collar counties. Roads like Route 64 (North Ave.), Route 59, Randall Road, U.S. 12 (Rand Rd.), and portions of Palatine Road should have been converted to full-fledged expressways long ago, but unfortunately there has been a lack of long-range planning, foresight, and political will in this state for much too long, and now it is impossible for these roads to become upgraded due to development. Other alternatives are planned such as the Route 53 northern extension and the Prairie Parkway quasi-outerbelt, but with this state's track record and speed regarding such infrastructure projects, I'm not holding my breath until I see earth movers and cement trucks.

    In my travels, I've never encountered the capacity/congestion and road condition (potholes, cracks, buckling) problems as bad as I have seen in Illinois. Then again, I haven't been to every state either.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,185
    I agree that Illinois' roads are overall pretty bad - away from the interstates and especially the tollways (the recently-rebuilt part of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94) in Lake County, IL is one of the VERY BEST roads that I have ever driven!). My experiences are that average rural state highways in Illinois are on a design and maintenance par with second-tier lettered county highways here in Wisconsin. One of the worst state highways that I have driven in Illinois is US 20 west of Freeport - it's a fairly busy road that is still in its 1930s form. I also found IL 73 north of Lena, IL to be particularly bad when I had reason to drive it several years ago and the lettered county highway that it feeds into at the Wisconsin state line was in much better condition, both design and ride-wise.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,705
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    what is the source for this?
    I think this is it:
    Worst Roads

    I wish they would have done all of them ... I'd like to see where NY ranked.

    I'm not surprised to see PA on the list. Access roads in the state forests in NY are frequently in better condition than some rural roads in PA.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,361
    I have to agree that Illinois roads are pretty bad. It's even worse now recently since the state has a horrible budget deficit and hence no money to fix many of the roads. A lot of the local governments aren't doing to well either so have also deferred a lot of road maintenance.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  7. #7
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Wishing I were in Asia somewhere!
    Posts
    10,131
    Blog entries
    5
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think this is it:
    Worst Roads

    I wish they would have done all of them ... I'd like to see where NY ranked.

    I'm not surprised to see PA on the list. Access roads in the state forests in NY are frequently in better condition than some rural roads in PA.
    They did...here's the link to the full report http://reason.org/files/19th_annual_highway_report.pdf

    Starting on Page 13 has the varying performance indicators with tables of how the 50 states compare. Starting on Page 43 are the individual state breakdowns.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  8. #8
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    Posts
    6,137
    I've driven all over the country and have to say that Michigan, especially Metro-Detroit has some pretty awful roads, especially in the "poor-condition mileage" category. Very heavy industrial/truck traffic concentrated into one MSA, declining gasoline tax revenues, the use of salt on the roads in the winters, and a brutal freeze-thaw cycle do not combine to make smooth roadways.

    However, compared to other places I've been, congestion is not too bad here and I know statewide traffic fatalities have been trending downwards over the last few years. These factors probably help keep Michigan out of the bottom 10 states on this particular list.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  9. #9
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    19,092
    Generally speaking, we Americans have no notion of what a 'bad road' really looks like. Most roads on earth are poorly maintained, dangerous, and/or massively congested.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    what is the source for this?
    Sorry about that. It saw the article just before I headed out and wanted to post it before it disappeared. I normally attribute better.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    I would have to say Illinois' roads are pretty bad, especially in the Chicagoland area. Luckily, most of the major roads in the state are paved, but due to the insane freeze-thaw cycles seen across much of the state, many of them crack and develop potholes very easily. Additionally, the capacity is terrible in the Chicagoland area, which accounts for some of the longest commuting times in the nation. The amount of expressways is pretty sad, considering it's the third largest metropolitan area in the country. The capacity of our system pales in comparison to smaller metros like Dallas and Minneapolis. Especially deprived of expressway miles are the suburbs, particularly the collar counties. Roads like Route 64 (North Ave.), Route 59, Randall Road, U.S. 12 (Rand Rd.), and portions of Palatine Road should have been converted to full-fledged expressways long ago, but unfortunately there has been a lack of long-range planning, foresight, and political will in this state for much too long, and now it is impossible for these roads to become upgraded due to development. Other alternatives are planned such as the Route 53 northern extension and the Prairie Parkway quasi-outerbelt, but with this state's track record and speed regarding such infrastructure projects, I'm not holding my breath until I see earth movers and cement trucks.

    In my travels, I've never encountered the capacity/congestion and road condition (potholes, cracks, buckling) problems as bad as I have seen in Illinois. Then again, I haven't been to every state either.

    What no Hager's Bend? When my sis lived off the Fox River in Algonaquin I used to be on this road all the time. It was terrible.

    Michigan does have some awful roads. Years of underfunding them is begining to show serious flaws in how we are forced to defer maintenance to the point where the only way to get the road fixed is to wait until it is almost impassable.

    Michigan is considered one of the more agressive states when it comes to highway safety. Roundabouts are almost always considered when rebuilding an intersection because of thier safety benefits and we enforce the seatbelt law. Our biggest safety issues comes from snow and deer. We can't seem to control either!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,563
    When I read the title of this thread I guessed Louisiana. They have the worst roads I have even seen. Illinois and Michigan are close. I also thought Florida had some rather poor roads.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,554
    Blog entries
    1

    Hmm.....

    Maryland has (use to have) the best roads Last time I drove through Ohio, I needed a new suspension and 4 tires. Still holds the record for most times nearly killed on a highway by near misses
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  14. #14
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2010
    Location
    I'm gettin' there
    Posts
    949
    At my previous job in Illinois I met and spoke with a lot of different representatives of the state's DOT. They were actually happy to come to all of the state's different MPO committee meetings because it was the only part of their job operating on some level of sanity. Apparently, the state budget isn't looking very good right now.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  15. #15
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,672
    Blog entries
    3
    Moderator note:
    Moved to Transportation Planning. The redirect link in the FAC will appear for one week.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Generally speaking, we Americans have no notion of what a 'bad road' really.
    In comparison to Europe the roads in America are much worse.


  17. #17
    Cyburbian estromberg's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    127
    What's really sad is that the states listed in the original post are all Southern states that don't have to deal with much in the way of freezing or snow and still they suck.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,185
    Quote Originally posted by coloradoreal View post
    In comparison to Europe the roads in America are much worse.

    It depends on the country. Yes, roads in, let's say, Nederlands, Switzerland and Germany are pretty good, BUT, OTOH, Belgium is well renowned within Europe for having pretty bad roads. In the former Soviet Empire, especially Ukraine, many main roads are still barely passable at best. Most improved since the fall of The Wall are Poland, Hungary and Germany's former DDR states.

    Another mention, and this is a problem dating to the ultra-Greeny governments of the 1970s though the 1990s, are severe traffic congestion and glaring unbuilt gaps in the otherwise densely developed and impeccably maintained Dutch motorway network - since the late 1990s their government has been playing a very impressive game of 'catchup' on those decades of neglect.

    Also, several countries (Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, to name three) require that vehicles display special vehicle stickers (called 'vignettes') in order to legally drive their higher-class highways (motorways and many expressways). Most vehicle owners buy annual stickers (€40-50/year sticks in my mind as rates), but, for example, Austria sells a two-day version for €2 at their borders for those just driving through. Revenues fund the maintenance and upgrades of their respective motorway and expressway networks. Many other countries (ie, France, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and others) have extensive direct tollway networks.

    Mike

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wherever
    Posts
    1,186
    Looks like some of that information from the link Linda_D posted came from this report that ranks each state's roads in various categories. This one had North Dakota as having the best roads and Rhode Island the worst.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    South of Canada
    Posts
    347
    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    Looks like some of that information from the link Linda_D posted came from this report that ranks each state's roads in various categories. This one had North Dakota as having the best roads and Rhode Island the worst.
    I'd have to give first hand credibility to any study showing that Rhode Island roads are the worst. What we experience here after the freeze/flood/freeze/thaw cycle is approximate to the condition of their roads year-round.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Paris of Appalachia
    Posts
    3,902
    Quote Originally posted by estromberg View post
    What's really sad is that the states listed in the original post are all Southern states that don't have to deal with much in the way of freezing or snow and still they suck.
    Gotta keep those taxes low somehow.

    I'm surprised at West Virginia's ranking. While the state's tertiary roads are often narrow, poorly constructed, and often shoulderless, their highways are some of the smoothest in the East. Maybe it's from all of that sweet federal funding they receive?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    Oklahoma is addressing several of their issues on I-35 and I-40 as we speak. Wish I could say the same about I-44, at least SW of OKC. I think the tolls on I-44 haven't kept pace with inflation enough to provide adequate maintenance (you can get from Oklahoma City to the Texas border outside Wichita Falls on I-44 -- a distance of 125 miles -- and pay less than $4.50 in tolls [in contrast, I spend $0.75 one-way for a 16-mile drive to work on TX SH 45 and SH 130, and that's with the discounted "Toll Tag" rate]).

    I-40 is in terrible condition through central OKC -- it's quite possibly the worst limited-access highway in terms of quality I've ever driven on, and I'm well-traveled by automobile in the US. However, the state government recently began relocating that entire stretch farther south about a mile or so so they can expand their downtown area to the Oklahoma River. Plans for this relocation have been in place for a decade, and I think they used it as an excuse to not keep the road adequately maintained.

    Local roads are also being heavily invested in. I was up in OKC on Wednesday because Mrs. TexanOkie had a job interview at a group home in the western portion of the central city. There is road construction all over the place in central OKC and downtown. They should be pretty nice within a relatively short time.

    Can't say the same for Tulsa - but good lord their city government has problems - lack of vision, corruption. That combined with the rise of crime in the city resulted in all of Tulsa metro area's population growth the last decade happening in the suburban towns. OKC gained almost 80,000 residents the last 10 years - Tulsa lost 2,000.
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 27 May 2011 at 2:15 PM.

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,672
    Blog entries
    3

    "

    Quote Originally posted by coloradoreal View post
    In comparison to Europe the roads in America are much worse.



    "Europe" also has a more moderate climate, without the wide temperature extremes and severe freeze-thaw cycles that exist throughout much of North America. It's easy to maintain good roads when the temperatures don't plunge below 0C as frequently or intensely. I doubt you'll see conditions like this on the M25, A40 or Peripherique.



    It's normal for much of North America, though.

    That being said, I've routed cross-country road trips to bypass Oklahoma, because the Interstates there are so bad. The last time I drove through Oklahoma City, it reminded me of the bad old days in New York in the 1970s. I-35 and I-40 are jarring; not just a few bumps here and there, or with the rhythmic beat of old concrete slabs, but where I feared that parts would fall off of my car. Oklahoma has perhaps the most severe climate in the continental United States; summer temperatures often above 40C, winter temps often below -10C.

    In upstate New York, the expressways and state roads are maintained in excellent condition, especially considering the wide temperature range (summer highs approaching 30C, winter lows -10C). Local roads are often not in very good condition. Although UNY doesn't have the extremely wide "SECONDS COUNT! local roads of the Sunbelt, nor the amount of multi-lane sections for collectors or arterials, the concept of road diets has yet to make it here.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    873
    With California's budget cuts, its roads may soon be the worst... ;-(

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 17
    Last post: 21 Mar 2012, 5:47 PM
  2. Window roads
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 31 Oct 2008, 4:22 PM
  3. Ice Roads
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 15
    Last post: 28 Aug 2007, 10:12 AM
  4. Dirt Roads
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 19
    Last post: 30 Apr 2004, 11:54 AM
  5. How Bad are Your Roads?
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 25
    Last post: 30 Oct 2003, 9:47 AM