JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is among the nation's leaders in maintaining its transportation system and getting good value, according to a report issued recently by the Reason Foundation, which measures every state's road conditions and expenses.
Missouri jumped to a national rank of 13th in 2006, compared to a rank of 17th in 2005 and 28th in 2004.
"We've made a lot of progress making Missouri roads smoother and safer in just a few short years," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn. "These new statistics are just beginning to reflect how the early completion of our Smooth Roads Initiative in 2006 and the Better Roads, Brighter Future plan now under way are making a big difference in the quality and safety of our transportation system. As a result, 78 percent of our roads are now in good condition."
The Reason Foundation's 17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems analyzes the effectiveness and performance of each state in 12 categories, including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance costs and administrative costs.
Missouri tied with several other states for first in rural interstate condition, with all the state's 799 miles in good condition. "These highways are some of the most heavily traveled in
the state, and bringing them up to good condition was a top priority for us," Rahn said.
MoDOT is among the most efficient in managing a state highway system, ranking 4th in administrative costs per mile. "We're committed to putting dollars into transportation improvements, rather than overhead costs," Rahn said. "We've whittled our administrative costs down to about 3 percent of our budget."
Improvement areas remain, however. The state ranked 40th in deficient bridges with 30.5 percent deficient. And Missouri ranked 33rd nationally for its fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
"Bridges remain a top concern not only in Missouri, but also across the nation," Rahn said. "Through the Safe & Sound Program, we will improve 800 deficient bridges in five years. Once finalized, this program will quickly improve the condition of many of our smaller bridges."
Rahn also noted that Missouri is also making progress toward decreasing highway fatalities. In 2006, Missouri led the nation in lives saved with 161 fewer fatalities. In 2007, the state experienced 118 fewer highway deaths and the number of fatalities for the year fell below 1,000 for the first time in 15 years.
Improvements in Missouri roads were also highlighted in March, when the Pew Center on the States gave Missouri a B+ for its infrastructure performance and touted its transportation-planning processes as a national model. That score was better than all but four other states and the 50-state average grade of a B-.
The Reason Foundation's full report is available at http://www.reason.org/ps369/