(The Center Square) – North Carolina's highway system was ranked 14th in the nation for its cost-effectiveness and condition in the Reason Foundation's 25th Annual Highway Report.
Reason Foundation, a libertarian think-tank, evaluated state-controlled highways' conditions in 13 categories, including pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities and spending per mile.
North Carolina has the largest state-owned highway in the nation. The state manages most of its more than 80,000 miles of roadway, except for subdivisions and other local roads.
North Carolina received its best rankings in urban interstate pavement condition, administrative disbursements per mile, total disbursements per mile and maintenance disbursements per mile.
The urban interstates are major highway systems in urbanized areas. According to the report, 1.9% of North Carolina's urban interstate pavement is in poor condition, several percentage points better than the nationwide average of 5.1%. It was ranked sixth among the states.
North Carolina ranked eighth for its administrative disbursements per mile. Administrative disbursements include operational costs that are not associated with projects, in particular office costs. The state's disbursements per lane mile is $1,454, while the national average is $6,443.
The state's total disbursements per lane mile is $34,122, $60,000 below the national average. The state ranked 14th in the category and for its maintenance disbursements per mile. North Carolina's maintenance disbursements per mile is $6,030, while the national average is $15,952.
The report is based on state highway agencies' spending and performance data submitted to the federal government for 2018, urban congestion data and bridge condition data for 2019.
North Carolina's overall ranking is an improvement from Reason's 24th Annual Highway Report, when it was ranked 17th overall. The state's worst rankings in the new report were its rural fatality rate and structurally deficient bridges.
"To improve in the rankings, North Carolina needs to reduce its rural fatality rate and percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The state ranks in the bottom five for rural fatality rate and ranks 40th for structurally deficient bridges," said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation.
North Dakota, Missouri and Kansas were ranked the top three states for overall highway performance and cost-effectiveness.