Study: Tennessee highways slip to 10th in the nation in condition and cost-effectiveness rankings

Nov 18, 2021 at 09:57 am by WGNS

Tennessee’s highway system ranks 10th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Annual Highway Report released today by Reason Foundation. Tennessee ranked 6th in the previous edition of the study. The state’s worst rankings are in urban fatality rate (46th) and overall fatality rate (40th) in the Annual Highway Report, which ranks every state’s highway system in 13 categories.

In other safety and performance categories, Tennessee ranks 11th in structurally deficient bridges, 19th in traffic congestion, 9th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 16th in rural Interstate pavement condition.

Compared to other states, Tennessee’s overall highway performance is better than Georgia (ranks 14th overall) and Mississippi (ranks 15th), but worse than Virginia (ranks 2nd), Missouri (ranks 3rd) and Kentucky (ranks 4th).

The report estimates Tennessee commuters spend 6.76 hours per year stuck in traffic congestion, ranking 19th nationally.

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Tennessee’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 17th largest highway system in the country. On spending and effectiveness, Tennessee spends $48,943 per mile of state-controlled road, which is 16th in total spending per mile (meaning 34 states spend more per mile).

“To improve in the rankings, Tennessee needs to reduce its overall fatality rate and its urban fatality rate. Both rank in the bottom 15 of all states and are higher than Tennessee’s peer states,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Tennessee ranks in the top 30 in all 11 of the remaining categories. If the state was able to reduce its fatality rates even somewhat, it might rank in the top five of all states.”

Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-controlled highways in 13 categories, including pavement and bridge conditions, traffic fatalities, and spending per mile. The report’s data is primarily from 2019, but the traffic congestion data is from 2020 and reflects some of the drop in volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full Annual Highway Report is online here. And Tennessee’s detailed results are here.


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