Georgia’s highways rank 18th in nation as higher spending improves system

By David Pendered

As state lawmakers discuss transportation spending, a new report highlights another wrinkle in Georgia’s roadways. The condition of rural roads ranks in nation’s the Top 10, and the urban roadways rank 47th in terms of congestion, according to findings from the Reason Foundation.

Georgia 2

The Reason Foundation ranked Georgia’s rural highways 7th in the nation. The network includes Ga. 2, which winds along the state’s northern border between the Chattanooga area and South Carolina. Credit: timesfreepress.com

The state’s overall ranking may have been lower if state lawmakers had not levied a transportation sales tax in 2015.

As a result of the higher taxes, Georgia ranked 19th in terms of disbursements per mile of roadway. That compares to a ranking of 24th in 2014, according to past reports.

Still, the overall quality of Georgia’s network of highways and bridges has slipped this decade.

This year, Georgia received an overall ranking of 18th in terms of highway performance and cost-effectiveness, the foundation determined. That’s an improvement since the 2017 ranking of No. 21.

It is a decrease since 2014, when Georgia ranked 13th overall nationwide.

In the current rankings for the Southeast, only South Carolina (No. 5) received a higher overall ranking than Georgia. The laggards in the Southeast were Florida (No. 35) and Louisiana (No. 37), according to the findings.

The foundation’s report does pay attention to the balance between urban and rural highway systems. New Mexico is a case in point.

New Mexico dropped 13 places as congestion worsened in urban areas and the proportion of miles of narrow roads on the state’s arterial system increased. The state fell form 11th to 24th.

transportation ranking 2018

The Reason Foundation evaluated 11 metrics to determine that Georgia ranks 18th overall for its highway and bridge system. Credit: reason.org

Likewise with spending per mile and improved roadways.

Several states increased their spending per mile, but were dropped in rankings as their roadways deteriorated. Among this group are Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Ohio and Maine.

The Reason Foundation reports that it compiles the annual report with information that each state provides to the federal government. The report tracks 11 categories of information, including highway spending per mile, rural and urban pavement condition, deficient bridges, traffic congestion and fatality rates.

The foundation describes itself as a, “libertarian think tank” with a set of transportation experts who have, “advised five presidential administrations and numerous state and local transportation departments.”

A Georgia Tech grad is one such expert.

Baruch Feigenbaum serves as the Reason Foundation’s assistant director of transporation policy. Feigenbaum earned his masters degree in city planning and transportation from Tech in 2010, according to his page on linkedin.com. Feigenbaum went on to coordinate the vanpool in Cobb County and as transportation advisor to then U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland before joining Reason Foundation in 2011.

Here are highlights of the report as presented by Reason Foundation:

  • “Georgia ranks 27th in fatality rate, 9th in deficient bridges, 29th in rural Interstate pavement condition, 18th in urban Interstate pavement condition, and 47th in urbanized area congestion;
  • “On spending, Georgia ranks 19th in total disbursements per mile and 43rd in administrative disbursements per mile;
  • “Georgia’s best rankings are rural arterial pavement condition (7th), deficient bridges (9th) and maintenance disbursements per mile (15th);
  • “Georgia’s worst rankings are urbanized area congestion (47th) and administrative disbursements per mile (43rd);
  • “Georgia’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 10th largest system.”
Reason Foundation, 2018 transportation report

Georgia was ranked among the second of five tiers of state highway and bridge systems, according to a new report from the Reason Foundation. Credit: reason.org

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

1 reply
  1. shaunhoulihan says:

    Why are we quoting transportation rankings from the “Reason” Foundation here? Reason Foundation is not a transportation, planning, or engineering organization, but an ideological ‘think tank’. They’ve got a clearly predetermined agenda to push and it’s not necessarily in the best interest of Atlanta travelers.Report

    Reply

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