Dec 16, 2021 - News

Ohio highways rank middle of the pack

Highway system performance rankings
Data: Reason Foundation; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

If our highways seem in rough shape to you, there's some data to back that opinion up.

Driving the news: Ohio stands in the middle of the pack among all states when it comes to our highway system, but dropped from 13th last year to 24th this year.

What they did: Researchers at the Reason Foundation compared state highway systems data from 2019 and 2020 in more than a dozen categories, including pavement condition, traffic safety, bridge quality and cost-effectiveness.

What they found: Our highways could stand to be improved, especially considering how much our state spends on them.

  • One especially low mark: Urban pavement conditions.

Other takeaways: The 70/71 interchange notwithstanding, the data shows our urban congestion is comparatively not nearly as rough.

  • The Buckeye State also has a better-than-average traffic fatality rate, particularly in rural areas.

By the numbers: Ohio has 19,470 state-controlled highway miles, from Ashtabula to Zanesville.

  • Our state transportation budget allocates billions of dollars each year for highway construction and maintenance through state and federal funding.
  • That's more than $80,000 spent per mile of state-controlled road, per Reason Foundation research.
  • That figure can sound high, but it too is near the median among all states.

Meanwhile, more spending is on its way.

What they're saying: Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson Matt Bruning takes issue with some of the study's methodology and notes infrastructure data can fluctuate wildly from year to year.

  • Examples include a "dramatic revenue shift" with the gas tax increase in 2019 and a major drop-off in traffic volume last year because of the pandemic.
  • "While there are still plenty of challenges ahead, we feel that Ohio is in a great position to continue moving forward," Bruning tells Axios.
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