The Worst Roads in the U.S.

Drive to Survive

Every year when the snow melts, cities, states, and local municipalities make plans to remedy the havoc that winter snow plows and chained tires have wreaked on their roads. As cash-strapped states weigh where their road-repair budgets should go in 2011, MainStreet decided to take a look at the most recent data to determine who had the worst roads in the country. >>Click here for a video breakdown of our Worst Roads ranking! We also looked at the states with the best roads in the country using the same data. Read the article or click here for a video breakdown of the top five! To come up with the ranking we analyzed four metrics, ranked each state on each indicator, and pooled the results to generate a cumulative ranking for all 50 states (sorry, D.C.). We avoided bringing money into the equation at all, since expenses on road maintenance tell us nothing more than how much money was spent on road repairs. After all, states that spent the most on their roads could be assumed to have the worst (the more repairs are needed, the more money will be spent), but also the best (more money spent on roads means, well, better roads). Instead we looked at:
  1. Poor-Condition Mileage. To compare the percentage of each state’s roads deemed to be in “poor condition” we looked at 2008 numbers put together in a comprehensive report by the Reason Foundation. We combined the rankings for rural interstates, urban interstates and other rural and urban roads to get a unified ranking for road condition.
  2. Deficient or Obsolete Bridges. Because bridges and overpasses make up an important part of roads everywhere, we looked at 2009 bridge condition data (the most recent available) from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
  3. Fatalities. To get an idea of road safety, we looked at the number of road fatalities per state in 2009 – measured per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to account for the different lengths of road in each state – from the Federal Highway Administration.
  4. Congestion. We again used the Reason Foundation’s calculations to determine peak-hour volume-to-capacity ratios on each state’s roads.
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