Kentucky’s highways rank fourth in two categories of national study

LOS ANGELES (WTVQ/Press Release) – A recent study ranking highways across the nation credits Kentucky’s rural and urban arterial road quality to its top 5 placement in the report.

The Reason Foundation published its Annual Highway Report (click here) measuring 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.

In the overall cost-effectiveness and condition category, Kentucky ranks 4th in the nation. In safety and performance categories, Kentucky ranks 47th in overall fatality rate, 29th in structurally deficient bridges, 23rd in traffic congestion, 23rd in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 21st in rural Interstate pavement condition. Kentucky ranks in the top 30 of all states in 11 of the 13 categories.

Kentucky spends $36,205 per mile of state-controlled road, ranking 12th in total spending per mile (meaning 38 states spend more per mile). Kentucky’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 8th largest highway system in the country.

Kentucky drivers spend 7.91 hours stuck in traffic congestion each year, ranking 23rd nationally.

Compared to nearby states, Kentucky’s overall highway performance is better than Tennessee (ranks 10th overall) Ohio (24th) and Indiana (32nd) but worse than Virginia (2nd) and Missouri (3rd). Kentucky’s fatality rate is about 10% higher than Tennessee’s rate and about 30% higher than peer state Missouri’s rate.

“To improve in the rankings, Kentucky needs to reduce its overall fatality rate and urban fatality rate. Both are above the average,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “While it may be challenging for Kentucky to have a fatality rate as low as a state like Massachusetts, the state can improve from its current bottom five ranking.”

For the full report, click here and for Kentucky’s detailed results, click here.

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