Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart


To determine the states that are falling apart, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index consisting of three measures related to state infrastructure — road, bridges, and rail conditions — using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other sources. Data on the percentage of roads in “poor” condition — rural roads with an International Roughness Index score greater than 170 and urban roads with an IRI score greater than 220 — as of Dec. 31, 2018, came from the Federal Highway Administration of the DOT and were included in the index. Data on IRI by road length by state came from table HM-63 of the FHWA’s 2018 Highway Statistics. Data on the percentage of the number of bridges in “poor” condition — a designation from the FHWA indicating structural deficiencies such as deterioration, crackling, and spalling — as of Dec. 31, 2018 also came from the FHWA and were included in the index. The final component of the index is the number of train derailment accidents per 100 miles of railway. Data on the number of train derailments from 2015 and 2019 came from the Federal Railroad Administration of the DOT and were adjusted for the total miles of railway in each state as of 2017 using data from the Association of American Railroads.

Supplemental data on highway spending by state from 2014 to 2018 came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State Government Finances. The average annual highway spending during that period was adjusted for the number of licensed drivers using annual data from FHWA.

Iowa did not meet our data completeness requirements and was therefore excluded from consideration.

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