Minnesota roads

A corn field and farm with barns and a silo beside Highway 14 near Chester, Minnesota.

(The Center Square) Minnesota dropped three spots from last year in its national rankings for its highways’ overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Reason Foundatin report released Thursday.

This year, Minnesota ranks 18th overall. In 2016, it ranked 22nd.

The North Star State has the second-lowest overall fatality rate (0.60 per 100 million vehicle-miles) and urban fatality rate (0.29 per 100 million urban vehicle-miles). Its rural fatality rate, 0.60 per 100 million rural vehicle-miles, is sixth lowest in the nation. South Carolina has the highest overall fatalities rate (1.73), New Mexico had the highest urban fatalities rate (1.74), and Hawaii had the highest rural fatalities rate (4.86).

The report said these rankings were “impressive” for a state that has a lot of land but not a lot of population density, with the obvious exception being the Twin Cities.

Its rankings in urban and rural interstate pavement condition are its lowest, at 35th for each. Illinois ranked 41st in urban interstate pavement condition, while Wisconsin was 31st in that measure. North Dakota and New Hampshire reigned in that measurement, as they tied for first, with no poor mileage. Minnesota ranked behind Illinois (27th) and Wisconsin (34th) in rural interstate pavement condition.

“To improve in the rankings, Minnesota needs to improve its Interstate pavement quality. The state ranks 35th in both rural Interstate and urban Interstate pavement quality. The state ranks 25th in rural arterial and 7th in urban arterial pavement quality, so clearly the state can deliver smooth roadways,” Reason Foundation lead author Senior Managing Director of Transportation Policy Baruch Feigenbaum said in the report. “It might be as simple as prioritizing maintenance over other expenditures.”

The state ranks 27th in total spending per mile of its highways ($80,561) and 23rd in capital and bridge costs per mile, the report said. It has the 22nd highest number of state-controlled highway miles (29,222).

The largest decrease in rank among the nation’s states was in South Carolina, which dropped from sixth to 23rd place from 2018 to 2019.

North Dakota (first) and South Dakota (ninth) received better rankings than Minnesota, but the Gopher State ranked ahead of Wisconsin (26th) and Michigan (34th).

The department is asking Minnesotans to weigh in on plans to replace the Hwy 61 bridge over Withers Harbor Drive in Red Wing and the intersection of Hwy 169/Hwy 1/CR 77 near the Y Store in Tower. Surveys are available online. Public meetings will be held at 5 p.m. (presentation at 5:30 p.m.) virtually and in the respective cities (Red Wing and Tower) on Nov. 18.