Transportation

Maine’s transportation infrastructure needs work

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The Reason Foundation’s 25th Annual Highway Report highlights something Mainers of all political stripes know well: We need to “fix the damn roads.”

Maine saw a dramatic drop in its overall ranking in the newest edition of the Foundation’s report, falling 21 positions from 4th to 25th. According to the report, the decline is due to Maine dropping by 26, 40 and 26 positions in rural interstate pavement, rural arterial pavement, and urbanized area congestion rankings, respectively.

To determine the performance of state highways, Reason uses state highway system budgets (per mile of responsibility) and compares this data with system performance, meaning states with high ratings “typically have better-than-average system conditions (good for road users) along with relatively low per-mile expenditures (good for taxpayers).” The report is based on spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government in 2018, as well as urban congestion data from INRIX and bridge condition data from the Better Roads inventory for 2019.

The report compares state highway systems in 13 different categories, including total disbursements per mile, rural and urban interstate pavement condition, urbanized area congestion, structurally deficient bridges, fatality rates and more. Maine’s ranking in all 13 categories, including overall ranking, can be seen in the visual below:

Source: Reason Foundation

“To improve in the rankings, Maine needs to reduce its percentage of structurally deficient bridges and improve its rural arterial pavement condition. Maine is in the bottom 10 for both categories,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation.

Despite its middle-of-the-road ranking, Maine’s highway system does outperform the systems operated by some of its regional neighbors, according to the report.

“Compared to nearby states, the report finds Maine’s overall highway performance is better than Connecticut (ranks 35th) New York (ranks 44th), and Massachusetts (ranks 47th),” Feigenbaum said. “Maine is doing better than comparable states like New Hampshire (ranks 29th and Vermont (ranks 30th).”

Maine’s highest marks in the report come in urban fatality rate (1st) and urban interstate pavement condition (4th) while its lowest rankings are in rural arterial pavement condition (47th) and structurally deficient bridges (45th).

As noted by authors Feigenbaum, Spence Purnell and Joseph Hillman, Maine’s 4th place ranking in 2019 may have been an aberration since, in the previous edition of the report, Maine ranked 23rd.

Click here to read the full report.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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