(The Center Square) – Minnesota ranks in the top third of states with the smoothest major urban roadways and just above average for roadway spending per lane mile, according to a MoneyGeek review of road conditions and state spending.
The North Star State’s urban road roughness index is 88.6. Seven percent of its roads are in poor condition, and 63% are in good condition, the report said. Its capital outlays per lane mile are $10.00 and its total highway spending is $5.04 billion. Minnesota spends $47.85 per 1,000 vehicle-miles traveled, or $2.9 million for 60.7 billion vehicle-miles traveled.
MoneyGeek weighed each U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration category of measured pavement roughness of the International Roughness Index (IRI) and aggregated it across each state system, the report said. The Federal Highway Administration says an IRI less than 95 indicates a good condition, while between 95 and 170 is acceptable, and greater than 170 is poor, the report said.
The report found that state spending on roads per vehicle mile has no correlation with road quality. Roughly 10% of miles of road in the country are in poor condition.
“If states were working to improve their roads, the worse the roads, the more the state would be spending (to fix them),” the report said. “Additionally, tax-friendly states don’t have the worst roads. They are trying to keep roads in working order just as states with higher taxes are.”
The report found that about 75% of spending to maintain and fix roadways and highways comes from state and local governments. The federal government’s Highway Trust Fund had a $16 billion deficit in 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported. According to the office’s projections, the fund will be depleted by 2023.
The District of Columbia has the worst road roughness (214.9 index score), with 80% of its roads in poor condition and 2% in good condition. It spends the highest amount per lane mile ($131.29) in the nation. Its total highway spending is $611 million.
Rhode Island was the highest-ranking state for worst road roughness (147.4 index score). Forty percent of its roads are in poor condition while 24% are in good condition.
Idaho had the best road conditions, with a road roughness index of 59. Seven percent of its roads are in poor condition, and 41% are in good condition. It spends the 11th least per lane mile ($6.32) on its roads, with total highway spending of $1.2 billion.
Pavement Management Group Founder and CEO James Golden said in the report that investing in road improvements reduces traffic congestion and increases access and reduces direct costs to American taxpayers.
“I believe the key to a strong economy is a robust infrastructure of safe, long-lasting and maintained roadways,” Golden said. “This roadway network would bring confidence to every motorist’s doorstep and instill a sense of reliability and pride. The answer to achieving the best collective roadway network on the planet lies in a data-driven maintenance and repair strategy — a strategy that not only encourages communities to leverage preventive, preservation and recycling treatments but rewards and acknowledges this behavior as well.”
Complete Auto Guide Chief Editor Jerry Wilson said in the report that infrastructure spending is a basic necessity that is sometimes overlooked.
“Through its indirect effects, infrastructure spending is usually an investment that yields higher returns than it originally cost,” he said. “It’s a very effective tool a government has in times of crisis and high unemployment. … In today’s political world, there is a lot of pressure to focus on the short term and ignore long-term needs, which can be seen as too expensive or not providing a payoff.”
Minnesota ranked 18th nationally for its highways’ overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to a Reason Foundation report released Nov. 18.