It Could Be Worse: We Could Be Driving in California

Virginia has the 18th best road system in the country in 2004, according to a national survey published by the Reason Foundation. That’s a far-from-stellar performance, but we can console ourselves that we outperform our neighbors in Maryland (38th) and North Carolina (31st). However, the sour pusses among you can take heart that Virginia’s performance fell significantly from the previous year, when it had ranked 11th.

The rankings combine two sets of measures: roadway quality and performance measures, and cost measures. States ranking the highest tend to offer a combination of superior performance at lower cost.

As a generality, Virginia fared well in cost measures — we spend considerably less on our roads than other states — but enjoy middling performance levels.

We ranked 8th lowest in the country in receipts per state-controlled mile: $55,063. That compares to a low of $36,890 in South Carolina and a high of $2,370,630 (not a misprint!!) in New Jersey (Can anyone say “Mafia-dominated construction unions?”)

Virginia was the 2nd lowest state in the country for Capital & Bridge disbursements per
state-controlled mile, 27th lowest for maintenance disbursements, and 7th lowest in administrative disbursements.

In the critical performance measure “urban interstate congestion,” Virginia ranked 21st best with 42.54 percent of our interstate miles congested. A handful of western and Great Plains states enjoy zero percent interstate congestion, but the numbers are high throughout the East Coast. The comparable numbers in Maryland: 68.58 percent. In North Carolina: 72.47 percent.

With 83.33 percent congested interstate miles, California has the worst interstates in the country.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


5 responses to “It Could Be Worse: We Could Be Driving in California”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Thanks for posting… I had read it and was hoping you would…

    small correction:

    not ranked BEST

    RANKed by Cost Effectiveness:

    “Since the states have different budgets, system sizes and traffic, comparative
    performance depends on both system quality and on resources available.

    To determine relative
    performance, state highway budgets (per mile of responsibility) are compared with system
    performance…. States ranked high typically have good-condition systems along with
    relatively thin budgets.”

    page 10

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Folks might ask themselves why – if Va ranks so high in Cost Effectiveness .. that we have some of the worst congested areas.

    and here is one reason why:

    Rank State Miles

    1 West Virginia 33,987
    2 Alaska 5,659
    3 Maine 8,548
    4 North Carolina 79,031
    5 Virginia 57,860 <---------<<<<< compared to States that leave maintenance of local roads to local jurisdictions: 45 Michigan 9,698
    46 Maryland 5,140
    47 Massachusetts 2,849
    48 California 15,213
    49 Florida 12,040
    50 New Jersey 2,321

    So, Virginia is attempting to maintain 10 times the mileage as Maryland.

    Cost effectiveness will only get you so far and so one might better understand why Virginia is trying to get it’s localities take on more of the responsibilities.

  3. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    Good points re miles or roadway.

    Bigger problem: Reason has a political / idological agenda that has nothing to do with solving the Mobility and Access Crisis.


  4. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    I’m trying to discern if there’s any cosmic significance to ranking 18th on tax burdens (see post of a couple of days ago) and ranking 18th in highway quality. Any numerologists willing to explain this?

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    lies, damn lies, and numbers/stats

    my interest in the story was because Reason was approaching the issue from a Cost Effectiveness POV – which, I believe, if done right, helps to prioritize and rank new projects…

    On the California front – two topics worth checking out as they are on-topic for NoVa also:

    Headline: “Near the rails but still on the road”

    Research casts doubt on the region’s strategy of pushing transit-oriented residential projects to get people out of cars.,0,4693321.story?coll=la-home-center


    Headline: “While Orange County officials have built a network of toll roads to address growing traffic, L.A. officials have invested much more heavily in rail and bus service.

    The land of the freeway is poised to become a little less free.

    Los Angeles County transit leaders on Thursday agreed to develop plans for toll roads within the next three years, after decades of opposition to the concept of motorists paying tolls to use the roads.”,0,1208459.story?coll=la-home-center

Leave a Reply