Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

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4. West Virginia
> Roadway in poor condition: 36.4% (7th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 19.9% of bridges (2nd highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 52 (2.3 per 100 miles of track — 11th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $988 (5th highest)

West Virginia has fewer train derailments relative to the amount of track it has than most states. But its advantages in terms of the quality of its infrastructure end there. About one in every five bridges in the state are structurally deficient, and more than a third of all roadway is in poor condition — second and seventh highest shares of any state, respectively.

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3. Wisconsin
> Roadway in poor condition: 81.7% (the highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 7.4% of bridges (24th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 85 (2.6 per 100 miles of track — 13th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $778 (13th highest)

While Wisconsin dedicated 8.0% of state expenditure to highways from 2014 to 2018 — one of the larger shares of any state — it is home to some of the worst roads in the country. According to data from the FHWA, some 81.7% of roadway in Wisconsin is in poor condition — defined as rural roads with an International Roughness Index score greater than 170 and urban roads with an IRI score greater than 220 — the largest share of any state. Motorists in Wisconsin incur in costs an average of $737 each year from driving on roads in need of maintenance, according to data from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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2. Rhode Island
> Roadway in poor condition: 48.7% (2nd highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 23.1% of bridges (the highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 1 (1.7 per 100 miles of track — 4th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $467 (12th lowest)

From 2014 to 2018, Rhode Island dedicated just 3.9% of its annual expenditure to highway maintenance, the sixth smallest share of any state. Highway spending amounts to an average of $467 per licensed driver per year, also one of the smaller figures of any state.

The relative lack of funding may be one factor contributing to the state of Rhode Island’s infrastructure. Some 48.7% of state roads are in poor condition, the second largest share of any state. Similarly, the FHWA deems 23.1% of bridges in the state to be structurally deficient, the largest share nationwide.

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1. New Jersey
> Roadway in poor condition: 37.2% (6th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 8.1% of bridges (22nd highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 104 (10.9 per 100 miles of track — the most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $614 (22nd highest)

In New Jersey, 37.2% of roads are in poor condition, the sixth largest share of any state and far more than the 21.8% national figure. New Jersey is also one of the most congested states, with a mean travel time to work of 32.4 minutes — the third longest commute nationwide. According to data from the American Transport Research Institute, congestion and poor roads in New Jersey cost the trucking industry some $3.4 billion in 2016, the most of any state when adjusted for total miles of highway.

Rail transportation infrastructure in the state is in similarly poor condition. According to data from the Federal Railroad Administration of the DOT, from 2015 to 2019 there were a total of 104 train derailments in New Jersey. Adjusted for miles of railway, there were 10.9 derailments per 100 miles — by far the most of any state.