Do road conditions effect the wellness of the U.S. economy?

March 7, 2023

According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Census Bureau, and analyzed by MoneyGeek, road conditions and the money spent on overall maintenance varies tremendously from state to state. What this seems to mean is that regardless of the monies spent, roads do not necessarily reflect the expenditure.

One-in-10 U.S. roads are in considerably bad condition, with city roads reporting even more disrepair. Surprisingly, California and Rhode Island had the most unfavorable roads in terms of bumpiness. Both states reportedly have 41% and 44% of their roads in subpar conditions, respectively.

Interestingly, New Hampshire and Alabama rank the highest in road conditions, meanwhile both states are contributing the least amount of money per mile to their upkeep—$9.82 and $6.44, respectively.

States decide to spend earnings accumulated via gas taxes in relation to the utilization, however it is important to note that the amount of money does not directly correlate with road quality.

Measurements used to analyze the data are referred to as the international roughness index. If the score is higher, the road conditions are worse. According to the Federal Highway Administration, if the IRI number is between the numbers 95 and 170, roads are acceptable. Any number over 170 means that road conditions are faulty.

The FHWA’s data showed that regardless of the amount of investment in road conditions, this does not seemingly determine the overall conditions at all.

How states in the Northeast measure up

New Hampshire was rated as having the best roads in the U.S., with an IRI score of 71.9. The total highway monies spent was $1.1 billion. This certainly suggests that New Hampshire is doing something correctly and that the rest of the U.S. states could be sending their funds more effectively.

Vermont and Connecticut ranked in the middle at 37th and 27th, respectively. Vermont’s IRI score was 91.2. It spent $10.64 per lane mile for a total of $1 billion on highways. Connecticut’s IRI score was 105. It spent $22.92 per lane mile for a total of $3.15 billion on highways.

New Jersey was ranked 10th for the nation’s rough road conditions. New Jersey reportedly spent $6.9 billion on highways, with $30.30 spent per lane mile, and nonetheless scored 123.4 on the IRI.

Similarly, New York ranked 5th, with an IRI score of 137. New York state spent $16.6 billion on highways, with $24.84 spent per lane mile.

The value of good roads

The value of good roads and infrastructure matters because it naturally fosters economic growth. If roads are maintained, then the cost for the delivery of goods is significantly reduced. Road wellness benefits the overall U.S. economy.

And, on the plus side, better roads can mean fewer auto insurance claims for damage caused by potholes and other road debris.

Maura Rosner
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Maura worked as a reporter for the Daily Mail. She received her English, B.A., from Brooklyn College. Maura is also a photographer who believes that there is power in every image.

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