How was your drive to work this week?

A new report ranks New Jersey as worst in the nation when it comes to the condition of our highways, even though we spend more on road construction and maintenance than any other state.

Baruch Feigenbaum, the assistant director of transportation policy at the libertarian Reason Foundation, said the annual highway report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state controlled highways in 13 categories, including the condition of pavement, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities and different types of spending per mile.

New Jersey ranks last in the country as a result of high cost-per-mile.

The report finds New Jersey's roadway costs are about twice as high as the next worst state.

While Florida spends about $300,000 a mile on average to maintain a roadway, it costs New Jersey $600,000.

According to Feigenbaum, the reason is “relatively high unionized costs and inefficiency in the process, but it shouldn’t be nearly that bad.”

He noted the Garden State is also ranked as 50th, or worst in the nation, in traffic congestion, 45th in urban interstate pavement condition and 29th in structurally deficient bridges.

The report also gives New Jersey very poor marks in a number of other categories:

  • Total Disbursements per Mile — 50th
  • Capital-Bridge Disbursements per Mile — 50th
  • Maintenance Disbursements per Mile — 50th
  • Administrative Disbursements per Mile — 46th

“What it means is the average New Jersey driver is paying a good amount to drive on the roadways but the overall pavement conditions they’re encountering are bad," he said.

The report recommends the state should adopt a cost-benefit analysis for suggesting road projects because “there’s some evidence that projects are being selected for overly political reasons.”

He explained that means “the parts of the state that need relief the most, which is most parts of the state, aren’t getting the new highway widenings or maintenance projects that need to be taken into consideration.”

Feigenbaum also suggested the state should consider spending more Transportation Trust Fund money collected from the recently raised gasoline tax on roadway projects, instead of steering the bulk of those funds towards mass transit.

He noted New Jersey does well, ranked 4th for its overall fatality rate, and the state’s rural interstate pavement condition is ranked 1st place.

In relation to nearby states, the report finds New Jersey’s last-place ranking significantly trails Pennsylvania (ranked 35th), but is somewhat closer to Delaware (ranked 42nd) and New York (ranked 45th).

The report finds while North Dakota, Virginia and Missouri have the best performing, most cost-efficient state highway systems, New Jersey has the worst, followed by Alaska and Rhode Island.

When asked to comment on the findings of the report, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation said the report is being reviewed.

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