Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

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44. Idaho
> Roadway in poor condition: 3.0% (3rd lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 7.0% of bridges (23rd lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 49 (2.8 per 100 miles of track — 16th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $622 (20th highest)

Idaho’s infrastructure ranks as one of best in the country, with just 3.0% of state roadways in poor condition. In fiscal 2018, the state spent just over $10 billion on its highways, the 10th lowest amount among states. But Idaho is also a relatively low-population state, and the state’s average annual highway expenditure comes to $622 per licensed driver in the state, higher than the national average expenditure or of $570 per licensed driver.

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43. Kentucky
> Roadway in poor condition: 8.4% (7th lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 7.1% of bridges (25th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 73 (2.8 per 100 miles of track — 15th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $724 (14th highest)

Kentucky, along with many states in the South, ranks as having one of the better infrastructure among U.S. states, especially based on the state’s road conditions. Harsh winter weather in colder states is a major cause of road degradation, and in Southern states like Kentucky, this is much less of a concern. Spending on highways in the state is actually higher than spending in most states, with annual highway expenditure from 2014 through 2018 averaging $723 per licensed driver in the state. In comparison, the national average highway expenditures was $571 per licensed driver over the same period.

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42. Virginia
> Roadway in poor condition: 14.7% (18th lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 4.6% of bridges (13th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 109 (3.5 per 100 miles of track — 19th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $867 (8th highest)

Virginia spends an average of about $5.1 billion on its highway system every year — or $867 per licensed driver, the eighth most of any state. The higher than average spending is contributing to some positive results, as just 14.7% of roadway in the state is in poor condition, well below the average of 21.8% of roadway in poor condition nationwide. The higher spending is also likely necessitated by high usage as Virginia roads are more likely to be congested than those in most other states, particularly in and around the D.C. metropolitan area.

Bridges are also generally well maintained in Virginia. Less than 5% of bridges in the state are considered structurally deficient, compared to 7.6% of bridges nationwide.

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41. New Hampshire
> Roadway in poor condition: 24.8% (19th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 9.0% of bridges (16th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 0
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $472 (15th lowest)

Broken tracks are the most common cause of a train derailment, and New Hampshire is the only state in the country to report no train derailments between 2015 and 2019, suggesting that New Hampshire’s railway is in better shape than tracks in the rest of the country.

In other areas, the condition of New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure is somewhat worse than average. Nearly 1 in every 10 bridges in the state are in need of repair or replacement, a larger share than in most states. Additionally, likely due in part to harsh winters, nearly 25% of roadway in the state is in poor condition.

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40. Minnesota
> Roadway in poor condition: 15.8% (19th lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 5.0% of bridges (14th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 149 (3.5 per 100 miles of track — 20th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $864 (9th highest)

The northernmost point in the lower 48 is in Minnesota, and northern states often have larger than average shares of roadway in poor condition due to harsh winters. Despite the damage freezing temperatures cause to the integrity of road surfaces in the winter months in Minnesota, just 15.8% of roadway in the state is in poor condition, compared to 21.8% of roadway nationwide.

Better road conditions are partially attributable to greater maintenance spending. Minnesota spends $2.9 billion on its highways annually, or $864 per driver, more than all but eight other states.