Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

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19. Colorado
> Roadway in poor condition: 22.2% (23rd highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 5.4% of bridges (18th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 135 (5.6 per 100 miles of track — 12th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $470 (13th lowest)

Due to elevation changes and the number of mountain passes through the Rockies, Colorado’s roads are far more difficult — and expensive — to maintain than the roadways in most other states. Partially as a result, 22.2% of road surface in Colorado is in poor condition, compared to 21.8% nationwide.

Train derailments — most commonly caused by broken tracks — are also more common in Colorado than elsewhere. There were 135 derailments reported in the state from 2015 to 2019, or 5.6 for every 100 miles of track, compared to 4.8 per 100 miles of track nationwide over the same period.

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18. Texas
> Roadway in poor condition: 24.7% (20th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 1.3% of bridges (the lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 822 (7.8 per 100 miles of track — 3rd most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $553 (21st lowest)

Nearly one-quarter of roads in Texas is in poor condition, a larger share than in most states. Trains are also more likely to become derailed in Texas than in nearly every other state, and derailments are most commonly caused by broken tracks or welds. There were 822 derailments reported in the state from 2015 to 2019, or 7.8 for every 100 miles of track. Over the same period there were 4.8 per 100 miles of track nationwide.

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17. Massachusetts
> Roadway in poor condition: 17.2% (21st lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 9.2% of bridges (15th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 53 (5.0 per 100 miles of track — 15th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $600 (24th highest)

In Massachusetts, bridges are more likely to be in need of repair or replacement than bridges in most of the country. Of all bridges in the state, 9.2% are considered to be structurally deficient, a larger share than the 7.6% share of bridges nationwide.

Many states in the Northeast have a disproportionately high share of roadway in poor condition partially due to the increased wear sustained during winters. Massachusetts is an exception, however, as just 17.2% of roadway is in poor condition compared to 21.8% of roads nationwide.

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16. New Mexico
> Roadway in poor condition: 39.4% (5th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 5.8% of bridges (20th lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 73 (3.9 per 100 miles of track — 23rd fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $484 (16th lowest)

Just under 40% of New Mexico’s roads are in poor condition, a higher share than in all but four other states. The state is spending relatively less to fix these roads. Between 2014 and 2018, the state’s annual highway expenditure averaged $484 per licensed driver, 16th lowest among states.

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15. Connecticut
> Roadway in poor condition: 25.9% (15th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 7.2% of bridges (25th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 26 (5.0 per 100 miles of track — 17th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $632 (18th highest)

Just over 25% of Connecticut’s roads have been determined to be in poor condition by the Federal Highway Administration, the 15th highest share among states and higher than the 21.8% share of roads in poor condition nationwide. Train derailments are often caused by poor track conditions, and these accidents are relatively common in the state. There were 26 derailments in the state between 2015 and 2018, equivalent to five per 100 miles of track, the 17th highest rate out of 49 states.