2019 U.S. Road Conditions by State
Some roads are less traveled for a reason
As holiday travel season approaches, ConsumerAffairs researched which states are the best and worst to drive through. Below, we ranked the best and worst roads by state based on our research and consumer survey data.
- What state has the worst roads? South Carolina has the worst roads in the U.S., followed by Louisiana, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Delaware. Residents of these states said the roads have potholes, illegible street signs and regular heavy congestion.
- What state has the best roads? Wyoming has the best roads in the U.S., followed by Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. Residents from these states remarked on the roads’ smooth pavement, recent repairs and lack of debris. Many people commented on their governments' quick seasonal weather cleanup.
Methodology: To determine which states have the best or worst roads, we calculated how much each state spends per mile of road, looked at the number of motor crash fatalities in each state, factored in the percentage of total capital spending toward roadway expansion and repair and surveyed 1,418 consumers across the U.S. about road conditions near them.
States with the worst roads
ConsumerAffairs data indicates that South Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Michigan have the worst roads in the U.S.
- 1. South Carolina
- According to our survey, South Carolina roads are “bumpy” and “just nasty.” A respondent in Fort Mill said the streets are “not adequate to handle the volume of traffic.” One respondent called Lancaster “pothole city,” and another in Little River reported cracks and missing pavement.
However, there appears to be some progress. About two years ago, South Carolina increased taxes on gasoline by 4%, which has generated more than $149 million for state road improvements, including resurfacing projects.
“They are pretty bad right now, but a lot of road work is being done,” a Lexington resident said. “In about six months to a year, I should be able to rate it considerably higher.”
South Carolina road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 77,364
- Spending per mile: $26,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 18%
- 2. Louisiana
- Most Louisiana road complaints were related to potholes, bumps in the road, sinking and flooding. In Haughton, the “majority of streets and roads are terrible,” said a resident who responded to ConsumerAffairs’ survey. Residents in Shreveport noted “potholes and patched potholes everywhere” and “trash everywhere along the roadway.”
According to residents, Louisiana's highways aren’t top-notch, either. “LA-97 and LA-98 are so bad in spots that you better slow way down to about 30 mph or you will hurt yourself or your vehicle,” said one resident who lives between Iola and Jennings.
However, eastern Louisiana roads get fewer complaints. A Covington resident reported “dedicated road maintenance.” In Meraux, “most lanes, streets, parkways and drives are paved and well kept,” and “there are no big potholes and the surfaces are fairly smooth” in Amite.
Louisiana road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 61,411
- Spending per mile: $39,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 25%
- 3. Hawaii
- According to residents who took our survey, Hawaii roads are congested, poorly marked and not consistently maintained. Respondents complained about “disappearing street lane marking” and “illegible” street names in Kapolei, congestion in Kapaa and “many tire-damaging roads” in Honolulu.
“[The roads] need regular pothole repair and repaving. Couple this with an average daily water main break that further destroys pavement, and you've got a mess,” according to a resident of Waiʻanae. “Few dedicated bike lanes. Pedestrian crosswalks where they shouldn't be. Bad lighting. Shoreline roads being impacted by rising rides. The list is long.”
A resident in Honolulu who rated the state’s roads as “terrible” implied that Hawaii’s road conditions might be improved if it weren’t for “government spending on [the] rail to nowhere,” apparently in reference to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s multibillion-dollar, 20-mile rail project on the west side of Oahu.
Interestingly, Hawaii has the fewest miles of roads (4,476) and spends the most per mile ($172,000) when compared to the rest of the U.S. A combination of heavy rainfall and thin asphalt might be to blame for the 42% of Hawaii roads in poor condition.
Hawaii road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 4,476
- Spending per mile: $172,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 42%
- 4. Rhode Island
- According to ConsumerAffairs’ survey, Rhode Island roads are “terrible” and “not in good condition” because of potholes and lack of maintenance. “Drive around. See for yourself,” said one West Warwick resident. “Best potholes in the country!”
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation warns that potholes are most prevalent in late winter and early spring when rain or snow is most likely to seep below the road surface. The moisture pushes the pavement up as it freezes and creates a gap between the pavement and ground as it melts. Vehicle traffic further exacerbates the pavement cracks and buckles.
The smallest state in the U.S. has 6,037 miles of road, and 53% of them are in “poor” condition, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.
Rhode Island road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 6,037
- Spending per mile: $70,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 53%
- 5. Delaware
- Delaware residents who responded to ConsumerAffairs’ survey noted potholes and mass construction to justify their roads’ terrible rating.
When asked why Delaware roads are so bad, one Georgetown resident said the state spends too much money on upgrades for “intersections with low traffic,” while “upgrades to intersections with existing high traffic are often inefficient and unsafe. They are outdated before they are even finished.”
Climate change and rising sea levels also threaten road conditions in Delaware, according to a recent report by Delaware Online, especially in low-lying areas near New Castle and Dobbinsville. The Delaware Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $1.45 billion to keep the lowest-lying roads in Delaware drivable.
Delaware road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 6,452
- Spending per mile: $55,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 19%
- 6. Oklahoma
- Oklahoma residents say the state’s roads are terrible because of potholes, degrading shoulders, faded paint lines, inadequate lighting and general lack of maintenance. A combination of extreme weather conditions and lack of infrastructure funding could be to blame for poor Oklahoma road conditions.
In Oklahoma City, “almost every street and highway has potholes or is very rough. A lot of bridges do not align with the road — they are either too high or too low,” according to one resident. Likewise, Tulsa roads are “rough” and “bouncy” with potholes, “cracks and ruts” and “buckling tar bubbles.”
“Tulsa definitely has a problem with city streets. Many streets have potholes,” one resident said. “Many roads are partially or completely closed for repairs, sometimes repeatedly. It seems that road repairs are not long-term.”
“Everyone I meet or know feels the same,” said another Tulsa resident. “We've all had to realign our cars at least once in the last five years.”
Lawton residents also reported that roads are “old,” “real bad” and “bumpy,” though some roads “are getting better.”
Oklahoma road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 112,865
- Spending per mile: $23,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 33%
- 7. West Virginia
- Mountain State residents are most likely to rate their roads terribly because of “potholes, potholes and more potholes” as well as poor stripping and lack of street signs. A combination of funding, management and staffing problems could be to blame for West Virginia road conditions.
Driving in rural West Virginia is most dangerous. Many secondary roads lack guardrails or safety barriers, and there’s little maintenance following inclement weather conditions.
“Dodging potholes and poor patches wears me out,” said one Charleston resident when asked why they rated West Virginia roads as being bad.
Even when potholes are filled, the “patchwork isn't up to standards as to consider it anywhere near smooth,” according to a respondent in Summersville. In Circleville, “the road is well paved, but not well marked.”
West Virginia road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 38,854
- Spending per mile: $32,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 31%
- 8. Mississippi
- The most significant complaints about Mississippi road conditions were related to potholes and ongoing construction projects.
“There are far too many potholes, ramps and just generally broken-up roads,” according to one survey respondent in Hattiesburg. “It's not undrivable, but it's very bad.” Likewise, “you drive daily dodging potholes” in Jackson, roads are “really torn up in downtown Biloxi” and “the pavement is uneven, there are potholes and the lines are faded everywhere” in Walls.
A few notable exceptions to poor road conditions in Mississippi include Rose Hill (“very well-maintained”), Columbus (“they are OK”) and Oxford, the home of the University of Mississippi, where one resident said, “The city keeps everything in decent shape. I think that is because it is a university town.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, road repair accounts for only 4% of Mississippi’s spending, the lowest in the U.S. For reference, Tennessee has the second-lowest percentage of expenditure and spends 16% of its annual budget on road repair.
Mississippi road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 77,445
- Spending per mile: $21,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 30%
- 9. New Mexico
- Residents of New Mexico think their roads are terrible, mostly due to “deferred maintenance,” numerous potholes” and “inadequate shoulders.”
When asked why they gave New Mexico roads their rating, one Albuquerque resident said, “potholes, bad sidewalks, speeding, poorly marked crosswalks” and “too many pedestrian-car accidents.” Another said, “It is difficult to see the lines on the roads, especially during rain, snow or in the dark. Often lanes ‘disappear’ before you can change lanes, with no warning.”
According to a survey respondent in Las Cruces, “When the city has to dig up a paved street for any reason, the repair job is poorly done. Consequently, almost all the streets are bumpy rides.” Likewise, a La Mesa resident reported, “No one seems to maintain the streets.” Additionally, Roswell road conditions are rough due to poor drainage.
New Mexico road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 77,205
- Spending per mile: $13,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 31%
- 10. Michigan
- Michigan's roads are in poor condition because of potholes, poor road planning and seasonal disruptions, according to the state’s residents.
“My road is full of deep holes and is wreaking havoc on my car,” a Linwood resident stated. Another survey respondent in Jackson said, “Instead of paving bad roads, they just fill in the potholes.”
Many respondents attributed the poor road conditions to the government’s use of salt to melt winter ice on the roads.
“Due to harsh winters, the salt eats the pavement and there are so many potholes in winter. It takes all summer to repair them each year, so construction is everywhere,” according to a Sterling Heights resident. “At least the roads are repaired every year, but only to start the whole cycle over again come winter.”
A Tecumseh resident added, “I realize Michigan has terrible winter roads, but other snowy states use a combination of sand salt or salt substitutes, anything that won’t destroy the roads!”
The good news is that Michigan roads seem to be on the mend, and the state probably won’t be on this list next year. When one Detroit resident was asked why they rated the streets as better-than-terrible, they said it was “because of the improvements I have seen now and over the last year or so. A lot of the streets I travel on regularly have been repaved or scheduled to be paved ... I see improvement, so I am giving your survey the benefit of the doubt that things are getting better.”
Michigan road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 122,036
- Spending per mile: $31,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 24%
- Honorable mention: California
- California residents are most likely to rate their roads terribly due to potholes, cracks in pavement, traffic and congestion. Some areas have seen road improvements in recent years, but many residents still have reasons to complain.
According to ConsumerAffairs’ survey, some of the roads in Antioch “are in good shape ... However, there are a lot more that need work, especially the streets in the Rivertown district.”
“A lot of roads they forget about. Other roads they fix and repave, then a couple weeks later they dig up because they have to repair something and make it a mess again,” said a Fresno resident.
“When we moved here years ago, the roads were great, but now they are cracked, full of holes,” said one San Diego resident. “The roads in rural Oklahoma are better than the roads in ‘America's Finest City.’ Very sad.”
“There is an extensive amount of deferred maintenance,” another San Diego resident added. “One problem has been the lack of coordination between agencies. I know of one overdue resurfacing of a major road that was torn up two months later to lay new pipes.”
Some California residents said the state's roads on the mend, however.
“I have seen great improvement to roads, including paving, curbs, landscaping, signage, traffic signals and placement of public art, during the nine years I have lived in Desert Hot Springs,” said one resident who took our survey. “Much of this is due to the improved financial status of the city, partly because of tax revenue from cannabis retail and grow facilities and an improving real estate market. We also have a sensible city government with some vision. Although we still need more road construction, the main arteries are well maintained in good condition and even function well during infrequent floods.”
California road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 176,2146
- Spending per mile: $97,000
- Roads in “poor” condition: 45%
States with the best roads
ConsumerAffairs' data indicates that Wyoming, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Vermont and Idaho have the best roads in the nation. Many of the states with the best roads must maintain road conditions for tourists as well as residents.
- 1. Wyoming
- Wyoming roads rank at the top of our list of best roads despite seasonal storms that make roads dangerous. Wyoming roads accommodate the state’s population (577,737) plus visitors to Yellowstone National Park (up to 6 million per year) and Grand Teton National Park (more than 4 million each year) with fewer motor crash fatalities than states with much higher populations.
The only negative comment our survey received about Wyoming roads was from a resident in Jackson who said: “Around the city square, the old concrete needs replacing.”
However, the future of Wyoming roads remains uncertain. Road fatalities are on the rise so far in 2019, and maintaining road conditions costs money that might not be in the state’s budget.
Wyoming road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 30,430
- Spending per mile: $23,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 65%
- 2. Kansas
- Kansas’ place on the list of best roads in the U.S. likely stems from increased funding for road improvements over the last few years. In Olathe, “several streets have been recently repaired or replaced. Others are in progress,” according to one resident who took our survey. Another respondent said, “I have lived in several cities, and I have never experienced streets so well maintained. This is true of all streets in Johnson County, Kansas.”
A Prairie Village resident said the roads are “pretty good” and city employees “work to keep up with potholes and snow removal.” This sentiment is echoed in Wichita, where the “city seems to do a good job keeping the roads up” and in Lawrence, where the roads are “constantly being improved. Awesome snow and ice removal in the winter.”
Still, not every Kansan is happy. A Topeka resident said that roads within the city limits need to be repaved. “As the capital, we should be ashamed of our roads. It’s always like a puzzle trying to drive through town.”
Kansas road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 142,054
- Spending per mile: $14,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 44%
- 3. Minnesota
- Thanks to recent improvement projects, more than half of Minnesota’s roads are in good condition.
“In winter, we have about the best snowplowing of any city around. In summer, there are very few potholes,” according to one Roseville resident. “And, about twice a year, they clean the streets with machine-mounted brushes to clean the curbs.”
Minnesota’s climate presents a unique challenge for maintaining roads in good condition. “The roads do get bad in the winter and spring due to the salt used. It takes a while for the potholes to get repaired. There are still some that are pretty bad,” a Hastings resident said.
Minnesota road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 139,449
- Spending per mile: $36,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 52%
- 4. South Dakota
- South Dakota is famous for its roads, especially among motorcyclists. Sturgis, South Dakota, attracts 500,000 to 700,000 annual road warriors for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. South Dakota’s main roads through the Black Hills and Badlands are in relatively good condition, according to survey responses, though many of the state’s backroads remain unpaved.
South Dakota road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 82,584
- Spending per mile: $13,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 40%
- 5. Montana
- Montana has some of the best roads in the country despite severe weather every year and low spending per mile. Famous scenic roads attract many tourists each year, though portions of some of these routes, including Going-to-the-Sun Road, are closed during the winter months.
However, Montana’s relatively good roads are not without complaints. One resident of Helena reported a “decent amount of potholes for a state that receives snow.”
Montana road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 73,566
- Spending per mile: $12,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 54%
- 6. Oregon
- Oregon residents report roads in the state are relatively well maintained. “Potholes and cracks are dealt with immediately and well,” according to a Grand Ronde resident.
“Having driven in other states this year, Oregon has pretty good roads overall,” one Eugene resident said. “However, they could use some help.”
Some residents report traffic and potholes in Portland: “Even though most of the streets are OK, there are plenty that still need tending to ... Lots of potholes and manhole covers are sunk-in, not smooth when riding over them.”
Oregon road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 79,275
- Spending per mile: $26,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 41%
- 7. Washington
- Overall, Washingtonians are happy with their roads. “They work hard to keep the roads nice,” a Spokane Valley resident said.
”The city keeps its street in good repair and clean. They do an excellent job, and it shows in the pride of work and results!” a Bonney Lake resident echoed.
“The majority of the roads are in good shape,” according to a Bellingham resident. “There are only a few that need some work.” Residents of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Kent and Arlington complained about potholes and congestion.
Oregon seems to be doing a pretty good job despite some unique challenges. “Weather and groundwater are especially tough on our roads,” said a Spokane resident. “Our current mayor, David Condon, has been in two terms and has managed the budget beautifully and cared for the roads. The city is also piloting a new product to coat the surfaces. Looks great so far.”
Washington road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 80,429
- Spending per mile: $52,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 25%
- 8. Utah
- Utah roads rank on our best roads list thanks to prompt maintenance and quality construction. In North Ogden, one resident said, “I have never had issues with potholes or anything like that. Feel very safe while driving on my local roads.” This sentiment was echoed in Sandy: “Good quality, no major structural problems.”
However, “they really need to widen some roads that are part of commuting routes” in Sandy and “some roads in West Valley are smooth, others not so smooth due to potholes,” one resident said. Additionally, a South Ogden resident complained that “the city is more interested in spending money on parks than on roads.”
Utah road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 49,290
- Spending per mile: $23,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 38%
- 9. Vermont
- Vermont roads rank toward the bottom of the country’s best roads. Overall, Vermont road conditions are relatively safe, and there are plenty of scenic byways to attract day-trippers from surrounding states. According to survey respondents, “some roads have been replaced” in Manchester, while others remain unpaved.
Vermont road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 14,255
- Spending per mile: $44,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 49%
- 10. Idaho
- Statewide, the roads are in good condition, considering Idaho’s relatively small population compared to its miles of roads. Idaho gets a lot of through traffic from road-trippers on its scenic byways and main roads.
According to a resident in Pocatello, “They have done better lately, but there are still a lot of bad roads in our town.” Another complaint about Idaho roads came from a rural area: “The road surfaces of the nearest small town are great, but there are awkward traffic patterns.”
Idaho road statistics:
- Total miles of road: 52,437
- Spending per mile: $16,000
- Roads in “good” condition: 43%
Methodology: How we determined the best and worst roads
To determine which states have the worst roads, we compared four factors:
- Amount spent per mile of road: We calculated the dollar amount each state spends per mile of road with data obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation. We also factored in the expansion of roadways as a percentage of total capital spending with data via the Tax Policy Center.
- Motor crash fatalities on roads per mile: The total number of fatal motor vehicle crashes in each state was sourced from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
- Percentage of roads in poor, fair and good condition: We considered the percentage of roads the Federal Highway Administration graded as being in poor, fair and good condition.
- ConsumerAffairs email survey: We surveyed 1,418 U.S. residents by email between September 22 and October 5, 2019. The survey asked respondents in all 50 states to rate their roads on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being terrible and 10 being excellent. Survey respondents were able to write why they chose that score.
Each factor was normalized, rescaled and weighted, which allowed our researchers to assign some data greater or lesser importance. Next, the scores from each factor were combined to produce final scores.
The process of giving weights to factors is a somewhat subjective process, according to ConsumerAffairs Vice President of Data and Analytics George Earl. To rank road quality, we concluded that fatalities per mile were a more important factor than dollars spent per mile, for example.
“We also assumed that each state’s survey results are a representative sample across that state, which creates a small potential for biases,” Earl said. “Even though each state has the same influence on the results, one respondent in a smaller state has greater influence than one respondent in a larger state.”
Worst road conditions ranked by state
Below, we ranked all 50 states in order from most terrible to most excellent based on data from ConsumerAffairs’ email survey, Tax Policy Center’s Data Query System (DQS), the U.S. Department of Transportation, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Highway Administration’s “Highway Statistics: Highway Infrastructure, Public Road Mileage by Functional System.”
|Worst state roads||Spent per mile||"Poor" roads||"Good" roads|
Correction: Nov. 20, 2019
An earlier version of this article did not accurately reflect that dollar figures were in thousands. The information has been updated with correct amounts.