Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

Detailed Findings

The condition of a given state’s infrastructure is contingent on a number of factors, including weather. When asphalt freezes and thaws, it can crack and begin to crumble, losing its integrity. As a result, road maintenance is required more regularly in states that face harsh winters. Seven of the 10 states with the largest share of roadway in poor condition are in the Northeast, Midwest, and other regions that experience freezing temperatures.

Perhaps the most germane factor, however, is the age of a system or structure. Much of our country’s infrastructure was built over a century ago. “[These systems] were never really designed to meet the demands of today,” Swallow said.

Ultimately, the only way to repair roadways, bridges, tunnels, and railways is through investment on the federal, state and local levels. “If we don’t increase the investment, we will continue to see our infrastructure maintain or deteriorate,” Swallow said. “If we do increase investment, we will start to see changes.”


To identify the states with the worst infrastructure, 24/7 Wall St. created an index accounting for the share in each state of roads in poor condition, the share of bridges classified as structurally deficient, and the share of dams at high hazard risk. The share of roadways in poor condition and the share of bridges considered structurally deficient came from the Federal Highway Administration’s report Highway Statistics 2016. The share of dams classified as high hazard potential came from the National Inventory of Dams, a database maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Association of State Dam Officials. Highway spending as a share of total government spending came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Finances.

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