Indiana’s highway system stagnant in national ranking, study says

Indiana’s state-owned road system is solidly below average and isn’t improving, according to a new report released Thursday by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation.

The foundation’s 26th annual highway rankings place the Hoosier state at 32 for the second straight year, dinging it for poor rural and urban interstate pavement, insufficient maintenance expenditures, low capital and bridge spending, and more.

The nonpartisan, libertarian think tank tracks the 50 states’ road conditions and cost-effectiveness across 13 categories. The report says Indiana’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 23rd-largest highway system in the country.

It also says Indiana drivers waste 17.96 hours per year in traffic congestion, ranking 38th in the nation.

Overall, Indiana came in below neighboring states Kentucky (4) and Ohio (24), and above Michigan (34) and Illinois (40) in the rankings.

Even in Indiana’s highest-scoring categories, including rural arterial pavements (15) and overall fatality rate (16), Indiana still doesn’t come out near the top.

“While it’s challenging for a state to have strong rankings across the board, Indiana does not have a single category rank in the top 10, and the state ranks in the bottom 15 of all states in four categories,” said Baruch Feigenbaum, the study’s lead author and Reason’s senior managing director for transportation policy, in written comments.

Those lower categories include congestion in urban areas (38), urban interstate pavement conditions (40), per-mile maintenance spending (42) and rural intestate pavement conditions (44).

The report also knocks Indiana for its spending efficiency. It says the state spends $94,623 per mile of state-controlled road—about $14,000 more per mile than Minnesota and Ohio, despite having “more poor Interstate pavement miles than Minnesota and about twice as many as Ohio.”

“To improve in the rankings, Indiana needs to have its above-average spending on roads translate into smoother interstate pavement and less traffic congestion,” Feigenbaum said.

Reason’s report uses 2019 and 2020 data from the Federal Highway Administration’s highway statistics reports, the National Bridge Inventory, each states’ highway fatality rates.

Congestion data came from INRIX Research and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

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16 thoughts on “Indiana’s highway system stagnant in national ranking, study says

  1. I travel to many other states there roads and highways are clean and in great order even Detroit inter city roads are clean. Our mayer and Gov should take note how filthy atr roads are. Let alone bad repair.

  2. I agree our state roads are a joke especially around Indianapolis. The State has been talking about updating the I-69/465 and I-865/465 interchanges for years nothing ever gets done. These two areas are an embarrassment to the State. The State continues to brag about a surplus, these funds should be used to update our roads.

  3. So “a state the works” apparently doesn’t work all that well…spending more money than other states and getting less for it. Time for some house cleaning at INDOT…and better leadership from the governor.

  4. The biggest scam that any Indiana government entity has been a part of in the last few years is the I69 extension. Why are we spending so much money on an interstate that nobody is going to use south of Bloomington when we should be properly maintaining our current interstates?

    1. Because it’s eventually a road to Houston.

      And the road needed to upgraded anyway, at least from 465 to SR144.

  5. Both I-70 and I-65 are a national disgrace. I-65 should have been widened to six lanes all the way from Indianapolis to Chicago decades ago (as Ohio has done with major portions of their interstates – who’s bringin’ home the bacon in Ohio?). I-70 has essentially been under construction for years now. Yet even in areas that have been completely repaved, poor expansion joint design makes hauling a trailer a sickening exercise as it bangs, bounces, and porpoises in a way that I haven’t encountered in any other state. (The eastbound lanes around the Mount Comfort exit are a perfect example. Brand new, yet the joints feel like speed bumps.) Other states have sections of their roads that are bad – that’s always going to happen. But INDOT seems both uninterested in basic maintenance of interstates, and incapable of anything besides enormous, grand scheme projects like downtown Indy or the achingly slow I-69 completion.

    1. I am not sue we should continue to subsidize the long haul trucking industry.

      It is nice when the road is six lanes wide, but before we jump into expanding the system, we should at least show people we know how to maintain what we have.

  6. Poor roads and other infrastructure are what we get with a legislature that prioritizes passing tax cuts for its cronies over investment. We now have full state coffers. What do legislative leaders say they want to do? “Pass a tax cut,” which on the surface looks great but is the reason why running our businesses cost more here. Business has to pay more to cover the higher costs of wear and tear.

  7. But hey, if we have a State budget surplus, lets make sure to send money back to the tax payers. Nobody will notice if we continually skimp on maintenance, right?

  8. Christopher H. you are right on point about the expansion joints and uneven pavement on I70, I65 and let’s include I69 north bound near Anderson.

    Look at how deplorable the “Hyperfix” was on 65 and 70 thru downtown Indy. It fell apart as though it was never repaired or upgraded. Indiana Highway Dept officials need to inquire with highway departments in Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolina’s, Minnesota and Mississippi. The have some of the smoothest interstates with little or no expansion joint issues. No waves or bouncy pavement.

    Someone said I69 wasn’t necessary southwest of Indy. It’s that kind of not thinking about the future, there are so many serious accidents on 465, 70, 65 and 69. All those interstates when built should’ve been built for the future, at least 4 lanes each direction with plenty of room to merge and exit without having to “weave” across traffic. Express/Collector lanes should be at all the busiest on and off ramps, especially when getting into downtown.

    If we’re really the “Crossroads of America”, think and build for future generations. Ask other states how they design, build and upgrade their interstate system. If nothing else look at models or maps of their interstate system. Think out of the box!

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