NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Every year when the snow melts, states, cities and towns make plans to remedy the havoc snowplows and chained tires wreak on their roads. As cash-strapped states weigh where their road-repair budgets should go, we decided to take a look at who had the worst roads in the country.
To do this, we analyzed four metrics, ranked each state on each indicator and pooled the results to generate a cumulative ranking for all 50 states. We left out Washington, D.C., and 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).
|Cash-strapped states are weighing where their road-repair budgets should go after a rough winter, although Hawaii -- in a tie for eighth place this year despite having the smallest road system in the country -- must place blame elsewhere.|
The factors we looked at include:
- 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.
- Deficient or obsolete bridges.Because bridges and overpasses make up an important part of roads everywhere, we looked at 2009 bridge condition data from the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration.
- 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.
- Congestion.We again used the Reason Foundation's calculations to determine peak-hour volume-to-capacity ratios on each state's roads.