Arkansas’ highway system ranks in the top 20 in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, coming in at no. 17, according to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation.
Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-controlled highways in 13 categories, including pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending (capital, maintenance, administrative, total) per mile.
Arkansas’ best rankings are in the spending category with administrative disbursements per mile (4th) and Arkansas’ drivers waste 5.16 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking 5th in the nation in traffic congestion (5th).
On spending, Arkansas spends $35,410 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks 9th in total spending per mile and 14th in capital and bridge costs per mile. Arkansas’ state-controlled highway mileage actually makes it the 16th largest highway system in the country.
Arkansas is a high-performing state with many strengths. Its system is very efficient, traffic congestion is low, and bridge quality is good. Pavement quality varies with urban arterials ranking highly, urban Interstates ranking lower, and rural highways in between. What is preventing Arkansas from a top-10 ranking? The state’s fatality rate is high in all three categories (overall, rural, and urban). If Arkansas is able to reduce its fatality rate, even slightly, it will improve in the rankings.
Arkansas’ worst rankings are in rural fatality rate (47th) and urban fatality rate (44th). When it comes to fatal crashes, Arkansas ranks in the bottom 10 in both rural fatality rate and urban fatality rate. Arkansas’ 2.06 rural fatality rate is roughly twice as high as peer states Missouri and Louisiana. Arkansas’ 1.07 urban fatality rate is significantly higher than both Missouri and Louisiana. In the categories of safety and performance, Arkansas ranks 37th in overall fatality rate, 14th in structurally deficient bridges, 5th in traffic congestion, 37th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 33rd in rural Interstate pavement condition. Arkansas is one of five states that have rural fatality rates of 2.0 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles. Hawaii, Nevada, South Carolina, and Alaska are the others.
“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Arkansas could reduce its rural fatality rate and urban fatality rate,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Arkansas’ low overall spending remains a strength of the system.”
Compared to nearby states, Arkansas’ overall highway performance is better than Oklahoma (ranks 36th) but worse than Tennessee (ranks 10th), and Mississippi (ranks 15th).
Arkansas ranks behind some comparable states, like Missouri (ranks 3rd) but ahead of others such as Louisiana (ranks 35th).
Data and photos courtesy of Reason Foundation