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Study: New Jersey’s highways rank last in the nation in highway conditions and cost-effectiveness

Despite spending three times as much per mile as New York, New Jersey ranks last in traffic congestion, 47th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 30th in structurally deficient bridges.

NEW JERSEY – For the third straight time, New Jersey’s highway system ranks last in the nation in road conditions and cost-effectiveness, according to Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report, which ranks every state’s highway system in 13 categories.

In safety and performance categories, New Jersey’s highways rank last in traffic congestion, 47th in urban Interstate pavement condition, 30th in structurally deficient bridges, 4th in overall highway fatality rate, and 1st in rural Interstate pavement condition.

New Jersey’s highway costs are disproportionately high compared to every other state and are the biggest driver of its poor cost-effectiveness rankings. Using spending data that the states submit to the federal government, the study shows New Jersey spends $1.1 million per mile of state-controlled highway. New Jersey spends $929,000 more than California spends per mile of its state-controlled highways and $762,00 more than New York spends per mile of highway.

Compared to nearby states, New Jersey’s overall highway performance is worse than New York (ranks 46th overall), Massachusetts (43rd), Pennsylvania (39th), and Connecticut (31st).  New Jersey also ranks behind more populous states such as Georgia (ranks 14th overall), Texas (16th overall), Michigan (34th), Florida (41st) and California (45th).

Overall Condition and Cost-Effectiveness Rankings

“To start to improve in the highway rankings, New Jersey’s high costs need to better translate into better road conditions, like good pavement condition, less traffic congestion and fewer deficient bridges. For example, New Jersey spends the most money per mile of highway but still ranks among the worst states in three pavement condition categories,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “If New Jersey could improve its pavement quality to the national average, it would move up in the overall rankings substantially. As it is, the state has the worst of both worlds: high spending and poor roadways.”

New Jersey’s state-controlled highway system is one of the smallest in the country—the 46th largest.

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 New Jersey’s detailed results are here.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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