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Report: New Jersey Ranks Last in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

The 24th Annual Highway Report, based on data that states submitted to the federal government, ranks each state’s highway system in 13 categories, including traffic fatalities, pavement condition, congestion, spending per mile, administrative costs and more.


Los Angeles (August 22, 2019) — New Jersey’s highway system ranks 50th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report published today by Reason Foundation. There is no change in the overall ranking from the previous report, where New Jersey also ranked 50th in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Neighboring New York ranks 45th and Pennsylvania is 35th in the overall rankings.
In safety and performance categories, New Jersey ranks 50th in traffic congestion, 45th in urban Interstate pavement condition, 29th in structurally deficient bridges, and 4th in overall fatality rate. On spending, New Jersey has the highest per mile costs and ranks 50th in total spending per mile and 50th in capital and bridge costs per mile.
“New Jersey is expected to have somewhat higher costs than many other states, but the state has one of the smallest highway systems in the country so taxpayers could realistically expect New Jersey to improve its ranking by improving its pavement condition and decreasing traffic congestion. The state ranks last in the bottom five in three of four pavement condition categories (urban Interstate pavement condition, rural arterial pavement condition and urban arterial pavement condition), and last in traffic congestion. New Jersey ranks in the bottom five states in eight of the 13 metrics. In relation to nearby states, the report finds New Jersey’s last-place ranking significantly trails Pennsylvania (ranks 35th), and is somewhat closer to Delaware (ranks 42nd), New York (ranks 45th), and Massachusetts (46th),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and assistant director of transportation at Reason Foundation.
New Jersey’s best rankings are in rural Interstate pavement condition (1st) and overall fatality rate (4th). New Jersey’s worst rankings are total disbursements per mile (50th) and capital and bridge disbursements per mile (50th).
New Jersey’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 47th largest highway system in the country.
Utilizing data that states submitted to the federal government, Reason Foundation’s 24th Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-owned roads in 13 categories, including pavement condition on urban and rural Interstates, deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, administrative costs, and spending per mile on state roads.
North Dakota ranks first in the Annual Highway Report's overall performance and cost-effectiveness rankings for the second year in a row. Virginia and Missouri, two of the 20 most populated states in the country, are second and third in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Maine and Kentucky round out the top five states.
The highway systems in New Jersey (50th), Alaska (49th), Rhode Island (48th), Hawaii and Massachusetts rank at the bottom of the nation in overall performance and cost-effectiveness.
The full Annual Highway Report, complete rankings in each category, and historical data from previous editions are available here:
New Jersey’s Complete Results
Ranking (out of 50 states)

  • Overall Rank (*see explanation below): #50
  • Overall Rank in Previous Report: #50

Ranking in Each Category 

  • Total Disbursements per Mile - #50
  • Capital-Bridge Disbursements per Mile - #50
  • Maintenance Disbursements per Mile - #50
  • Administrative Disbursements per Mile - #46
  • Rural Interstate Percent in Poor Condition - #1
  • Urban Interstate Percent in Poor Condition - #45
  • Rural Other Principal Arterial Percent in Poor Condition - #46
  • Urban Other Principal Arterial Percent in Poor Condition - #46
  • Urban Area Congestion* - #50
  • Structurally Deficient Bridges, Percent* - #29
  • Overall Fatality Rate - #4
  • Rural Fatality Rate - #10
  • Urban Fatality Rate - #22

*The Annual Highway Report is based on spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government for 2016 as well as urban congestion data from INRIX and bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2017. For more details on the calculation of each of the 13 performance measures used in the report, as well as the overall performance measure, please refer to the appendix in the main report. The report’s dataset includes Interstate, federal and state roads but not county or local roads. All rankings are based on performance measures that are ratios rather than absolute values: the financial measures are disbursements per mile, the fatality rate is fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel, the urban congestion measure is the annual delay per auto commuter, and the others are percentages. For example, the state ranking first in structurally deficient bridges has the smallest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, not the smallest number of structurally deficient bridges.
Reason Foundation's transportation experts have advised four presidential administrations, along with numerous state and metro transportation departments and planning organizations. Baruch Feigenbaum is lead author of the Annual Highway Report and his bio information is available here: