Special Report

States That Are Falling Apart

Source: TomasSereda / Getty Images

14. New York
> Roadway in poor condition: 18.3% (23rd lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 10.0% of bridges (12th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 163 (5.0 per 100 miles of track — 18th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $494 (17th lowest)

Approximately one in 10 of New York state’s over 17,000 bridges were deemed structurally deficient by the FHWA, the 12th highest share among states. In its most recent state infrastructure report card, the ACSE gave the state’s overall infrastructure a C- grade, and a D+ for its bridges. As of 2015, more than half of the state’s bridges were at least 75 years old, and 400 were over 100 years old.

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

13. South Dakota
> Roadway in poor condition: 18.0% (22nd lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 16.7% of bridges (4th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 45 (2.2 per 100 miles of track — 10th fewest out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $1,035 (4th highest)

The FHWA considers 16.7% of bridges in South Dakota to be structurally deficient, a higher share than all but three other states. In 2018, three construction workers were injured when a bridge near Sioux Falls collapsed while it was under repair.

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

12. Missouri
> Roadway in poor condition: 28.9% (10th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 8.6% of bridges (18th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 194 (5.0 per 100 miles of track — 14th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $329 (2nd lowest)

Missouri has one of the largest highway networks in the country, with 34,000 miles of highway as of 2017. Much of that network is in disrepair — 28.9% of state roads are in poor conditions, the 10th highest share of any state. In its most recent report card, the ACSE awarded Missouri’s infrastructure a grade of C-, and gave its road systems a D+.

Source: Eric Tessmer / Wikimedia Commons

11. Hawaii
> Roadway in poor condition: 42.3% (4th highest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 6.9% of bridges (22nd lowest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: N/A
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $471 (14th lowest)

Hawaii has a relatively small road network, with just 921 miles that are part of the National Highway System, the smallest total of any state. The state’s relatively small system of roads is also some of the most damaged in the country — with more than 40% of state roads in poor condition, according to the FHWA. In 2019, the ACSE gave Hawaii’s road infrastructure a D+ grade, noting that the state’s roads are threatened by sea level rise and flooding.

Source: marchello74 / Getty Images

10. Illinois
> Roadway in poor condition: 16.8% (20th lowest)
> Structurally deficient bridges: 8.5% of bridges (19th highest)
> Locomotive derailments from 2015-2019: 551 (7.7 per 100 miles of track — 4th most out of 49 states)
> State highway spending per licensed driver: $695 (17th highest)

Few states have as many train derailments relative to miles of train track as Illinois. There were 551 train derailments in the state from 2015 to 2019, or 7.7 for every 100 miles of track — well above the 4.8 derailments per 100 miles nationwide. Broken rail and welds are the most common cause of derailments, an indication that rail track is less likely to be well maintained in Illinois than in most other states.

Illinois also has a higher than average share of bridges in need of repair or replacement.