Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

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24. Maryland
> Roadway in poor condition: 11.4% (11th lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 5.1% of bridges (15th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 50 (6.5 per 100 miles of track — 8th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $593 (25th highest)

Over the last two decades, the Maryland Department of Transportation, in conjunction with local authorities, has repaired and replaced bridges across the state. As a result, just 5.1% of bridges in the state today are considered structurally deficient, a smaller share than in most states. However, the average age of all bridges in the state is 48 years old, just shy of the expected 50-year lifespan for bridges, meaning repairs will continue to be necessary in the coming years.

As for the state’s roads, despite being a densely populated state with some of the worst traffic congestion in the country contributing to increased wear on road surfaces, just 11.4% of roadway is in poor condition, well below the 21.8% share of roads nationwide.

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23. Washington
> Roadway in poor condition: 27.7% (11th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 4.6% of bridges (12th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 139 (4.6 per 100 miles of track — 22nd most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $519 (18th lowest)

A relatively large share of roadway in Washington state is in need of repair. Nearly 28% of road surface in the state is considered to be in poor condition, a larger share than in all but 10 other states. The poor road surfaces are likely attributable in part to limited investment. Washington spends the equivalent of just $519 on average annually on its highways for every licensed driver in the state.

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22. Michigan
> Roadway in poor condition: 22.6% (22nd highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 10.7% of bridges (10th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 82 (2.4 per 100 miles of track — 12th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $403 (4th lowest)

Michigan is one of only a dozen states where more than one in every 10 bridges are considered structurally deficient. This share will only likely grow in the near future as the Michigan Department of Transportation estimates, based on available funding, that the number of bridges in poor condition will climb by 50% from 2016 to 2023. Michigan spends an average of only $403 per licensed driver annually on its highways, less than all but three states despite a slightly larger than average 22.6% of road surface in Michigan is in poor condition.

Source: Damian Entwistle from Nelson, Lancashire, England / Wikimedia Commons

21. Mississippi
> Roadway in poor condition: 32.2% (9th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 9.4% of bridges (14th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 49 (2.0 per 100 miles of track — 8th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $602 (23rd highest)

A larger share of roads and bridges are in a state of disrepair in Mississippi than in most other states. Nearly one-third of roadway in the state is in poor condition, and nearly one in every 10 bridges are structurally deficient. In order to address the state’s dire infrastructure conditions, the legislature voted in 2018 to allocate $100 million a year for bridge maintenance and repair. Still, the state’s bridge funding gap is estimated at around $1.6 billion. Road maintenance is funded in large part by taxes on gasoline sales, and as of late 2019, Mississippi’s 18.4 cents-per-gallon of gas tax has not been raised in over three decades.

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20. Maine
> Roadway in poor condition: 25.5% (16th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 13.1% of bridges (6th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 11 (1.0 per 100 miles of track — 3rd fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $712 (15th highest)

There are over 2,400 bridges in Maine, and 13.1% of those are structurally deficient, according to the Federal Highway Administration, the sixth highest share of any state. In its most recent report card on the state of Maine’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state’s infrastructure a C- grade. The ACSE gave the same grade to the state’s bridges infrastructure, noting that more than half were over 50 years old.