LOS ANGELES - As thousands of Minnesotans hit the interstates and county highways for the Fourth of July holiday, they can do so knowing that a recent report ranks those roads as among the worst in the nation.
While the Reason Foundation Annual Highway Report says Americans are driving on slightly smoother roads, crossing fewer deficient bridges and spending less time stuck in traffic jams, Minnesota's roads and infrastructure rank 42nd among the nation's 50 states.
The Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-owned roads in 11 categories, including pavement condition on urban and rural Interstates, urban traffic congestion, deficient bridges, unsafe narrow lanes, traffic fatalities, total spending per mile of state roads and administrative costs per mile.
Data indicates that the Twin Cities are second only to Los Angeles in the category of gridlocked interstates. Researchers say 78 percent of Minnesota interstates deemed as gridlocked. The state's roads plummeted 17 spots in the rankings, from 25th to 42nd.
There is some good news: Nationwide the report indicates there is small progress in every category except for pavement condition on rural arterial roads. These improvements were achieved at a time when per-mile expenditures dropped slightly. Despite receiving stimulus funding from the federal government in 2009, spending on state roads decreased slightly, by 0.6%, in 2009 compared to 2008.
"It's hard to believe it when you hit a pothole or see a bridge in Washington collapse, but the nation's roads are getting better," said David Hartgen, author of the study and emeritus transportation professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "There are still several states struggling and plenty of problem areas. But you make the case that overall America's roads and bridges have never been in better shape."
The study's rankings are based on data that states reported to the federal government for 2009, the most recent year with full spending statistics available.
Among the states plagued with problems are New Jersey and California. New Jersey spends $1.2 million per mile on its state-controlled roads. That's nearly twice as much as the $679,000 per mile that the next biggest spending state-California-spends. North Carolina, home to the nation's largest state highway system, spends $44,000 per mile on its roads. South Carolina spends just $31,000, the lowest per mile rate in the nation, according to a Reason Foundation study of all 50 state-controlled road systems.
In terms of overall road conditions and cost-effectiveness, North Dakota has the country's top ranked state-controlled road system, followed by Kansas (2nd), Wyoming (3rd), New Mexico (4th) and Montana (5th), according to Reason Foundation's Annual Highway Report.
Here are the Reason Foundation's Annual Highway Report
Overall Performance and Cost Effective Rankings.
1. North Dakota
4. New Mexico
7. South Carolina
9. South Dakota
18. New Hampshire
19. North Carolina
32. West Virginia
45. New York
46. New Jersey
49. Rhode Island
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )