Today the Reason Foundation released their 21st Annual Report on the Performance of the State Highway System. This report ranks the quality and spending on the state highways based on data reported by each state for 2012 and part of 2011. Our legislators should be hanging their heads in shame while the taxpayers should be sharpening their pitchforks.

The condition of New Jersey highways ranks very low while spending per mile far outpaces the rest of the nation. New Jersey spends 12.5 times more than the national average per mile. This is over 3 times more than Massachusetts, the next lowest spender.

Of note is that these numbers only take into account highway miles. New Jersey has more lanes per mile than any other state with 3.65 lane miles per mile of highway. However, even taking this into account, New Jersey still spends far more than any other state. Taking this into account New Jersey spends 8.2 times more than the national average per lane mile and 2.6 times as much as the next highest spender, Massachusetts.

Overall in highway performance we rank at number 48. In good news, NJ ranks at number 5 for fatalities.

Category NJ National State Average
NJ Ranking
Rural Interstates in Poor Condition 2.05% 1.78% 31
Urban Interstates in Poor Conditions 10.71% 4.97% 46
Percent of Urban Interstates Congested 47.36% 42.15% 41
Deficient Bridges 25.33% 21.52% 36
Fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles 0.79 1.13 5
Total Disbursements per mile $2,027,711 $162,202 50
Total Disbursements per lane mile $555,537 $67,584 50


Spending on state-owned roads totaled $132 billion in 2012, up 6 percent from 2011. Spending varied wildly from state to state according to the Annual Highway Report. South Carolina and West Virginia spent just $39,000 per mile of road in 2012 while New Jersey spent over $2 million per state-controlled mile. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California and Florida were the next biggest spenders, outlaying more than $500,000 per state-controlled mile.

More than 10 percent of urban Interstate mileage in New York, New Jersey, Arkansas, Louisiana, California and Hawaii is in poor condition. Those six states account for nearly half of the nation’s potholed urban Interstate pavement mileage.
- Summary Annual Report on Highway Performance

It is my opinion that the two main reasons for the large amount of money spent on our roads is a combination of administrative overhead and the federal Davis Bacon Act. According to the report, new Jersey has the sixth highest administrative costs at $44,000 per mile. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean 2013 annual income for Road Construction Laborers is $46,500 in New Jersey, nationally the mean wage for this industry is $37,940.