“State highway conditions are the best they’ve been in 19 years,” proclaims the Reason Foundation in its 19th Annual Highway Report. Unfortunately, the Aloha State was ranked 47th overall, ahead of only California, Alaska, and Rhode Island. In fact, while Hawaii — perhaps unsurprisingly — has the fewest state-controlled highway miles (1,005 miles, versus 80,214 miles in North Carolina), it still ranked dead last for urban Interstate condition.
The report uses data spanning 2008, so does not include improvements (or declines) in road condition over the past two years. In announcing its latest findings, the Reason Foundation concedes that things got better in part because of the recession. People are driving less.
In calling out Hawaii’s standings, the foundation notes that Hawaii’s rank fell by one position, having come in 46th in 2007. It also reports:
Hawaii ranks 46th in total highway disbursements, 12th in fatalities, 48th in deficient or functionally obsolete bridges and 36th in urban Interstate congestion. Hawaii’s best rankings come in rural Interstate condition (1st), fatality rates (12th), and urban Interstate congestion (36th).
In the case of this report, ranking 12th in fatalities is indeed a good thing. (I had to dig a bit to be sure.) The foundation looked at fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles, and Massachusetts ranked first with 0.67, compared to Hawaii’s rate of 1.04. Nationally, traffic fatalities have steadily fallen to the lowest levels since the 1960s.
As for “deficient or functionally obsolete bridges”? Yes, it’s that bad. According to the Federal Highway Administration, basically half of the highway bridges in Hawaii meet that definition.
And as for ranking first in rural interstate condition? Twenty two states tied for first in that category. And while I’m not sure what percentage of interstate miles in Hawaii are “rural” versus “urban” (where, again, we ranked dead last), it’s a very small percentage nationwide. Throughout the U.S., about 1.93 percent of rural interstates, or 579 miles out of 30,076, were reported in poor condition in 2008.