North Dakota has best highway performance, New Jersey the worst

November 18, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Just after a massive infrastructure bill was signed into law, the Reason Foundation has released its annual Highway Report, which ranks states by their highway performance.

On Thursday, the Reason Foundation released its 26th annual Highway Report. According to the libertarian think tank, North Dakota’s state highway systems have the best overall performance. The top spots are a mixture of states with large and small populations:

  1. North Dakota
  2. Virginia
  3. Missouri
  4. Kentucky
  5. North Carolina
  6. Utah
  7. Kansas
  8. Idaho
  9. South Dakota
  10. Tennessee

Simply comparing states’ highway quality misses the bigger picture, the report suggests.

In order to receive more context, the Reason Foundation’s highway performance ratings evaluate cost versus quality.

“Since states have different budgets, system sizes, and traffic and geographic circumstances, their comparative performance depends on both system performance and the resources available,” the report explains. “To determine relative performance across the country, state highway system budgets (per mile of responsibility) are compared with system performance, state by state. States with high ratings typically have better-than-average system conditions (good for road users) along with relatively low per-mile expenditures (good for taxpayers).”

Based on those criteria, these states have the worst highway performance:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Alaska
  4. Hawaii
  5. New York
  6. California
  7. Delaware
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Washington
  10. Florida

The report grades highway performance on more than a dozen categories, including:

Rural interstate pavement condition:
Best: Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island
Worst: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii

Urban interstate pavement condition:
Best: New Hampshire
Worst: Louisiana (not counting Hawaii)

Urbanized area congestion:

Best: Utah
Worst: New Jersey

Structurally deficient bridges:
Best: Nevada
Worst: Rhode Island

Overall fatality rate:
Best: Massachusetts
Worst: South Carolina

Total disbursements per mile:

Best: West Virginia
Worst: New Jersey

Although the first and last place titles for overall highway performance are the same as the previous year, there is some significant jumping around in between. South Carolina plummeted 17 spots to No. 23 on the list this year. However, Wyoming’s ranking skyrockets from 36 to 12. LL



Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.