A report ranking US state highway systems on performance and cost-effectiveness has rated Massachusetts close to the bottom, finding that the state had one of the highest expenditures per mile of state-maintained roadway. The Bay State was also listed among the states with the worst levels of traffic congestion.
On the flip side, Massachusetts scored very well by two other metrics: It was second in its rate of improvement of deficient bridges, and it had the lowest fatality rate in the country—nearly half the national average.
The Performance of State Highway Systems report, issued annually by the libertarian Reason Foundation, looked at a number of measures but was most concerned with the cost of road construction and maintenance at the state level. By this measure, Massachusetts ranked forty-sixth out of fifty, the same as the previous year.
Each of its 3,658 miles of state-managed roads cost over $78,000 to manage and maintain in 2013, the year the report’s data was based on. The “best” state by this measure, New Mexico, spent less than $3,300 per mile. When looking at new construction costs and administrative costs, the ranking for Massachusetts was similar.
When it comes to congestion and time lost by drivers in traffic, Massachusetts rated equally poorly. The report calculated that the average car commuter in our state loses over fifty-seven hours each year in traffic delays, placing it forty-fifth among all states. The best commute was in Wyoming (less than eleven hours) and the worst in New Jersey (more than sixty-seven hours).
On the other hand, Massachusetts drivers and highway officials can point to at least one very good result: Our state claimed the lowest highway fatality rate per 100 million miles travelled (0.58), nearly half the national rate (1.10) and more than three times less than the rate of the worst state (Montana, 1.90). All of the New England states scored in the top half of this list.
Massachusetts also made good progress toward reducing the number of deficient bridges in the state (by 2.5 percent in one year), although the percentage of our bridges deemed deficient (35 percent) is still well above the national average (20 percent). In its latest overview report, the American Society of Civil Engineers found that 19 percent of roads in Massachusetts were in poor condition and rated about 9.5 percent of its bridges deficient—not quite so gloomy an assessment.
Drivers should care about how much time they spend in traffic, but they should also be aware of how well their highways are maintained and what this means for their safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that most crashes (up to 94 percent) can be blamed on the action of a driver.
But more than 50,000 serious crashes each year point to “environment-related” causes, which include not only icy roads but also such road-related problems as view obstructions, sign and signal problems, and poorly designed roads. It’s to all of our benefit that the state has done its part to minimize this risk.
You can choose to view this report as a glass half full or as a glass half empty. But if you ever find yourself the victim of a serious auto accident, you’ll need the assistance of a law firm with experience in automobile accident law.
At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, we understand all forms of motor vehicle accident cases, and we offer all clients a free consultation to discuss their situation and help them understand the process. Give us a call today at 1-800-660-2270 or complete the contact form on this page to schedule an appointment.