Rhode Island's Highway System Among the Worst in the Country

Jul 3, 2013

Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of spending per mile on its roads and bridges. Yet a new report says our highway system is the second worst in the country.  The 20th annual Highway Report was published by the Reason Foundation, a Libertarian think tank.

Rhode Island's highway system was ranked the second worst in the country according to a new report.
Credit thisisbossi / Flickr

Rhode Island’s roads and bridges are ranked 49th in the nation – with one being the best, according to the Reason Foundation.  Only Alaska has a worse highway system than the Ocean State, the group found.

Rhode Island’s deteriorating road conditions persist despite the fact that Rhode Island has the 8th highest spending rate per mile.  The Ocean State shells out 345-thousand dollars per mile annually – more than twice the national average, according to the Foundation.

Reason Foundation scholar David Hartgen was unable to explain the disconnect between expenditures and results.

"That’s a question  you need to ask the management there. We don’t look at the causes for these issues. We simply look at the numbers and basically assess how much resources each state has and what they’re getting out of it," said Hartgen.

The Reason Foundation also reported that Rhode Island has the highest rate of deficient bridges in the nation, with more than 50 percent in that category.

The director of the state Department of Transportation says he’s not surprised Rhode Island’s highways ranked low on the Reason Foundation report.

Michael Lewis said it’s a consequence of the density of Rhode Island.

"You know, we’re basically a city-state. All of our roadways are urban roadways so they get much much higher volumes of traffic. They are older. They’re much more expensive to maintain. If you look at the western states – the large rural states – they’re all in the low numbers because there are hundreds of miles between city centers," said Lewis.

Lewis points out that the infrastructure in the northeast is the oldest in the country.

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