Which states have the worst roads?

A new study finds overall US conditions have improved slightly, but the regional picture features some hard driving.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 3, 2013 1:50PM

Highway through prairie (© Comstock Images/Jupiterimages)This might sound a bit too optimistic, especially as you head out for a drive this summer, but a new national report says America's roads have improved -- slightly -- nationwide. The state-by-state picture, however, isn't so bright.

The Reason Foundation's Annual Highway Report tracks the performance of state-owned highway systems, looking at 11 indicators such as spending, pavement conditions on interstate and primary roads, fatality rates and other data submitted by state highway agencies to the feds.

In its 20th annual report, published Tuesday, the group found "small progress" in nearly every category and noted that the improvements came at a time when overall spending on roads and highways has decreased.

"It's hard to believe it when you hit a pothole or see a bridge in Washington collapse, but the nation's roads have been getting better," David Hartgen, author of the study and emeritus transportation professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said in a press statement.  He added: "There are still several states struggling and plenty of problem areas."

Speaking of struggling states, New Jersey and California -- not surprisingly -- are this year's poster children for bad roads. The Garden State spends $1.2 million per mile on its state-controlled roads, or nearly twice as much as California, No. 2 on that list. And considering more than 16% of urban interstate pavement in both California and New Jersey is listed in poor condition, drivers might be wondering where that funding is going.

The Golden State tops the list when it comes to the worst traffic: 80% of its urban interstates are considered congested.

Some other high and low points from the report:

  • North Dakota ranks No. 1 when it comes to state-controlled road systems, followed by Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana.

  • At the bottom, in descending order, are New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska.

  • Vermont wins for the nation's most-improved road system, rising to 28th place from 42nd in the overall rankings. New Hampshire and Washington state both rose nine spots.

  • Minnesota fell 17 spots for its road conditions, from 25th to 42nd. It also had the second-highest percentage of gridlocked interstate systems after California.

  • The nation's lowest interstate fatality rate was in Massachusetts and the highest in Montana.

Here's the foundation's complete state highway list, based on overall performance and cost effectiveness:

1. North Dakota
2. Kansas
3. Wyoming
4. New Mexico
5. Montana
6. Nebraska
7. South Carolina
8. Missouri
9. South Dakota
10. Mississippi
11. Texas
12. Georgia
13. Oregon
14. Kentucky
15. Virginia
16. Nevada
17. Idaho
18. New Hampshire
19. North Carolina
20. Delaware
21. Tennessee
22. Indiana
23. Arizona
24. Washington
25. Ohio
26. Utah
27. Alabama
28. Vermont
29. Maine
30. Michigan
31. Wisconsin
32. West Virginia
33. Iowa
34. Illinois
35. Louisiana
36. Arkansas
37. Florida
38. Oklahoma
39. Pennsylvania
40. Maryland
41. Colorado
42. Minnesota
43. Massachusetts
44. Connecticut
45. New York
46. New Jersey
47. California
48. Hawaii
49. Rhode Island
50. Alaska

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Jul 3, 2013 2:49PM
"drivers might be wondering where that funding is going."

Everywhere except where it's needed.

Jul 3, 2013 7:38PM
Why is it that the states with the highest gas taxes have the worst roads?
Jul 3, 2013 4:33PM

PA EASILY has worse roads then Maryland or New Jersey.  Driving on the highway you notice a huge improvement as soon as you cross the state line.


F Pennsylvania.

Jul 3, 2013 2:53PM

Minnesota fell 17 spots for its road conditions, not sh*t


Cause, libtards here spending all the road money on stupid bike lane creation, light rail to nowhere and now an idiotic trolley system.


Meanwhile trash all over the freeways, onramps closed for months on end because of no money to finish them and pot-holes everywhere.


Hopefully one day they get clued into the fact that MN has winter with many freeze thaws and stop building asphalt roads that fall apart in two years and go back to concrete. 


494 should be entered in the Guinness book as largest parking lot in the world.

Jul 3, 2013 5:53PM

For those of you that are not aware of it, ND is the only state that has a State Bank. Yes, and in it is over a billion dollars (yes a billion) that is assessable to use for what ever ND needs to keep up everything and anything.


When it comes to spending money for crap like most states spend on, you would have to be a magician to squeeze one dime out of the legislators. The old Germans from Russia, and the old Scandinavians penny pinching is alive and well.


But when it comes to things like roads they will spend a penny or two to keep up the roads. Too boot the legislators have to put a certain amount of money into a special fund every two years. Keep up the good work!

Jul 3, 2013 5:05PM
There's no way that Florida's roads are worse than Louisiana's!  All you have to do is start in Jacksonville on I-10 and drive west.  The first few hundred miles will be smooth sailing but when your front end alignment is shot and your wheels fall off you'll know you are in Louisiana! 
Jul 3, 2013 4:36PM
hmmmm , ohio is dead center , ironic considering it is called the "HEART OF IT ALL" . Sadly , ohio like a lot of the country is allowing its infrastructure to deteriorate . They are now taking what was once paved roads & plowing them under & making gravel roads out of them . Case in point , the Lincoln highway. A large part is now gravel. A historic route taken by Lincoln & we turn it in to dirt & gravel. Nice to see America working so hard at becoming a 2nd rate nation.
Jul 3, 2013 4:01PM
Not surprised IL is #34, actually thought it would have been lower on the list.  Good to know the state is putting all of that toll money to good use.  The roads here keep getting worse. 
Jul 3, 2013 3:44PM
I drive a rig and I can tell you all states; roads are bad but some are worse than others
Jul 3, 2013 3:22PM
How Indiana got 22nd I'll never know. Their roads are bad, very bad. I-65 from Indy to Gary is terrible. So is I-65 from Louisville to Indy.
Jul 3, 2013 3:21PM
Just returned from Dallas which included several hundred miles on highway 75/69 within Texas.  It was in horrible condition, rough as a washboard, pocked with pot holes, etc.  I will add 70 miles to my trip to avoid it completely next trip.
Jul 3, 2013 4:16PM

No surprise here in RI. Just keep taxing at some of the highest levels in the country to pay for the special interest groups and nothing goes into making it better for infrastructure.

One thing for sure, RI is consistent in the fact that it is in the bottom of almost every poll.

Jul 3, 2013 5:08PM
Ohio, Michigan and Indiana roads are terrible!
I drive them often and my tires have suffered.

Jul 3, 2013 4:00PM

I live in KC about 100 yards form the border of Kansas and Missouri.  It's kind of surprising to see Missouri so high, but not Kansas.  We always joke that you can tell which state you are in by how smooth the road is.  The difference in the quality of the highways is night and day.

Jul 3, 2013 5:13PM

the brain trust that came up with this report obviously has never been to Oklahoma!!!! Our roads are like goat trails ......HORRIBLE!!!!!

Jul 3, 2013 5:42PM
Roads in Hawaii differ from island to island...on Maui and the Road to Hana, the road is treacherous, but one must take into account that you are driving through a tropical rain forest and one would NOT want to leave a large imprint on the beautiful eco-system. 
If we, citizens of the U.S., are reluctant to pay taxes to support the DOT and our infrastructure, but don't question trillion$$ wasted on war, WE, like civilizations before us, will crumble. 
Jul 3, 2013 4:18PM
Missouri is #8?   Seriously?  Has anyone traveled down I70 lately?  Holy smoke!  Sometimes I feel as if my car will bottom out at 70 miles an hour because of all of the craters.  Arkansas is #36.  Yep!  I believe that.  Minnesota may have some of the worst roads,however, they have some of the nicest, most polite drivers I've ever encountered in all of my years of driving.
Jul 3, 2013 4:01PM
From my experience, Jerseys roads are a bit better than NY. They must have used mostly upstate roads for this survey, because the Citys roads are the absolute worst. I've dealt with car dealers in other states who won't even take cars as trades that were owned here.
Jul 3, 2013 9:44PM
I noticed my state, CA, is near the bottom in road quality and yet they have the second highest gasoline tax in the country (9/10th of a cent per gallon behind NY).  Obviously, the tax money isn't going where it's supposed to.  Big shock for the worst run state in the union.
Jul 3, 2013 5:18PM
Except for Alaska which has winters that destroy it's road system every year, all the worst sates are dim run states.  Tax everyone death and the squander the money on welfare to pander for votes.  Infrastructure?  Forget it.  Contractors probably don't vote for dims.
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