Pennsylvania’s highways rank near bottom of U.S.

By Victor Skinner (The Center Square)

Pennsylvania’s highway system is among the worst in the nation, ranking 39th out of 50 states in the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report.

The annual report examines the cost-effectiveness and condition of each state’s highway system using 13 categories: total disbursements per mile, capital and bridge disbursements per mile, maintenance disbursements per mile, administrative disbursements per mile, rural interstate pavement condition, urban interstate pavement condition, urbanized area congestion, structurally deficient bridges, overall fatality rate, rural fatality rate and urban fatality rate.

The Keystone State received its lowest rankings for structurally deficient bridges and urbanized congestion, which ranked 46th and 45th, respectively.

Pennsylvania was one of only five states that reported more than 15% of bridges to be structurally deficient, a figure that’s 1.5 times higher than New York and three times higher than Ohio.

The 35.53 peak hours Pennsylvanians spend in congestion is more than six times higher than the 5.68 hours for Ohio drivers, though significantly better than the 53.60 hours New Yorkers spend stuck in traffic.

“The state … could improve its 45th place ranking in congestion by building variably priced managed toll lanes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, an area in which the state is lagging behind peer states,” the report read.

The Pennsylvania interstate system also received low marks for urban interstate pavement condition, ranked 43rd, and administrative disbursements per mile, ranked 37th.

“Pennsylvania spends $102,329 per mile of state-controlled road. Pennsylvania is 35th in total spending per mile and 24th in capital and bridge costs per mile,” according to the report.

“To improve in the rankings, Pennsylvania needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and its urbanized area congestion,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Given the poor condition of its bridges and its mediocre pavement condition, the state might consider reprioritizing its spending to focus more on roadway and bridge maintenance.

“While it may be challenging for Pennsylvania to have low costs and roadways and bridges in good condition, the state needs to prioritize bringing its infrastructure to a state of good repair.”

Pennsylvania, which operates the country’s fifth-largest highway system, received the best rankings for its rural fatality rate, which came in 10th, and overall fatality rate, ranked 22nd.

Compared with other states in the Mid-Atlantic region, Pennsylvania’s 39th-place finish was just above Maryland in 38th, as well as Delaware’s 44th place, New York’s 46th place and New Jersey’s worst-in-the-nation ranking.

The state’s western neighbors, Ohio and West Virginia, fared much better, ranking 24th and 30th, respectively. Pennsylvania previously ranked 35th in 2016 and 39th in 2018 and 2019.

Nationally, North Dakota received the best marks overall this year, followed by Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky and North Carolina in the top five.

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