Report: Arizona Highway Fatalities, Congestion Among Worst

Published: Monday, August 26, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2019 - 6:16am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Arizona ranked 29th in the nation in Reason Foundation's Annual Highway Report released on Aug. 22, 2019.

A new report examining conditions and cost-effectiveness of state highway systems ranked Arizona 29th overall. The study’s lead author said Arizona could do more to tackle congestion across Valley highways.

The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, reviewed data during peak hours and ranked Arizona 36th. Lead author Baruch Feigenbaum recommended Arizona add new toll lanes while keeping the same number of non-toll lanes. As assistant director of transportation policy, he said the group’s research has found people who use toll lanes typically rely on them one to three times a week.

“We’ve also found that often times it’s the middle income and working class folks who like the toll lanes because they often are in situations where they have to get somewhere on time - either they have to get to their job at a certain time or they’ve got children in daycare and the daycare charges extra for every minute that you’re late and so it makes a lot of sense for them to use them,” Feigenbaum said.

Arizona’s worst ranking was 49th in the category of urban fatality rate. Only New Mexico ranked worse. After decades of decline, Feigenbaum said fatality rates have been going up in Arizona and other states.

“We think it’s a combination of things,” he said. “Specifically, distracted driving in terms of texting and cellphones. We also think a growing economy, there might be more travel in general, that might have an effect on the overall number of fatalities.”

The study found Arizona among the best states for structurally sound highway bridges (fourth) and urban interstate pavement condition (sixth). Each state’s overall rating is determined by rankings in 13 categories. A breakdown of Arizona’s rankings can be found here.

The top ranking states for overall performance and cost-effectiveness are North Dakota, Virginia and Missouri. The lowest-ranking states overall are Rhode Island, Alaska and New Jersey.

The Reason Foundation’s 24th-annual Highway Report relies on data states are required to submit to the federal government as a condition of receiving federal highway funds. Feigenbaum said some of the information about highway bridges is supplemented by other sources.

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