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Colorado highways drop six spots in national ranking

© Pixabay - Larisa Koshkina
Derek Draplin

(The Center Square) – Colorado's highways rank No. 43 in an annual report that analyzes the costs and quality of each state's highway system.

That's a drop of six spots from the state's ranking last year in the Reason Foundation's "Annual Highway Report."

"The state's biggest need is to improve Interstate pavement quality," the report from the libertarian think tank said. "Colorado could learn a lot from neighboring state Utah, which has some of the same geographical characteristics yet manages to rank 10th among all states."

The Centennial State ranks low for pavement conditions across the state, at No. 47 for rural interstates and No. 40 for urban interstates.

Colorado also ranks No. 21 in the structurally deficient bridges category, No. 31 for urban traffic congestion, No. 32 for rural fatalities and No. 36 for urban fatalities. The state's highest rank is No. 12 for "other disbursement ratio."

"To improve in the report's overall rankings, Colorado could improve its rural and urban Interstate pavement conditions and reduce its maintenance and administrative spending," said Baruch Feigenbaum, Reason Foundation's senior managing director of transportation policy and an author of the report. "Colorado has the fourth highest percentage of poor rural Interstate pavement."

Colorado's maintenance disbursement per lane-mile of 1.49 ranks No. 43.

"Colorado's spending numbers are average-high and its overall pavement quality is average-poor," Feigenbaum said. "For the amount the state spends, the pavement quality should be better." 

Neighboring states Utah (No. 10), Wyoming (No. 16), and New Mexico (No. 36) all place higher in the report's overall ranking than Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will receive an additional $45 million for snow removal and pavement repairs, Governor Jared Polis' office announced Thursday.

"Colorado's strong winter snowpack has helped grow our economy, support jobs, and our world-class ski resorts but we also need to address the consequences of a challenging winter to ensure that our roads remain safe and reliable for drivers and our economy as the weather warms up," Polis said in a statement. "We are making it a priority to fix potholes on state roads after a tough winter." 

In 2021, Polis signed a $3.8 billion transportation bill into law using new fees to fund projects.