Arkansas fell eight spots to 17th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition of its highway system amid high fatality rates on rural and urban highways, according to a new report.
Los Angeles-based nonprofit Reason Foundation released Thursday (Nov. 18) its Annual Highway Report that shows Arkansas fell from No. 9 in the 2020 report and ranked in the bottom 10 in both rural and urban fatality rates. The state’s 2.06 rural fatality rate is about twice as high as the rate in Missouri and Louisiana, and its 1.07 urban fatality rate is also higher than in those states.
Arkansas’ best rankings are in administrative disbursements per mile (No. 4) and traffic congestion (No. 5). Its worst rankings are in rural fatality rate (No. 47) and urban fatality rate (No. 44).
“To improve in the report’s overall rankings, Arkansas could reduce its rural fatality rate and urban fatality rate,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Arkansas’ low overall spending remains a strength of the system.”
Arkansas spends $35,410 per state-controlled mile of highway. It ranks ninth in total spending per mile, meaning 41 states spend more per mile, and 14th in capital and bridge costs per mile. According to the report, Arkansas’ state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 16th largest highway system in the United States.
In safety and performance, Arkansas ranks No. 37 in overall fatality rate, 14th in structurally deficient bridges, 37th in urban interstate pavement condition and 33rd in rural interstate pavement condition. The report also shows Arkansas motorists waste 5.16 hours a year in traffic congestion, ranking the state at No. 5 in the nation for traffic congestion.
Compared to other states, Arkansas’ overall highway performance is better than Louisiana (No. 33) and Oklahoma (No. 36) but worse than Missouri (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 10) and Mississippi (No. 15). North Dakota ranks No. 1, while New Jersey is No. 50.
“If Arkansas is able to reduce its fatality rate, even slightly, it should improve in the rankings,” Feigenbaum said. “Arkansas is one of five states that have rural fatality rates of 2.0 or higher per 100 million vehicle-miles.”