When it comes to road conditions, Nevada ranks better than more than half of other states, according to a report released Tuesday.
Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy think tank based in Los Angeles, ranked Nevada’s state highway system 16th in the nation in overall highway performance and efficiency in its latest annual highway report, which is based on 2009 data.
Nevada ranked 15th in 2008 and 18th the year before.
The rankings are based on such things as road congestion, road conditions, maintenance and administrative costs, bridge inspections and highway fatalities.
“Looking back over time, Nevada has actually improved a lot over the past couple decades,” said David T. Hartgen, an engineer and emeritus professor of transportation at University of North Carolina who co-authored the report.
Between 1989 and 2009, Nevada improved on five key measures, with urban interstate congestion being the exception.
“In road conditions specifically, Nevada experienced some of the best improvements in the country,” during that time, the foundation said in an earlier report. Most notably, the percent of urban interstate roads in poor condition dropped by 46 percentage points, marking the biggest improvement in the country.
With about 6,000 miles under state highway control, Nevada’s is the 11th smallest system in the country, the new report said
In Tuesday’s report, Nevada ranked second in fewest deficient bridges. The 10.5 percent deemed deficient was behind only Arizona, which scored fractionally better with 10.2 percent.
Nevada also was one of 20 states tied for first in rural interstate pavement condition.
But not all the news was glowing, as drivers in the state’s urban cores can attest.
The state ranked 41st in urban interstate congestion, with more than half — nearly 54 percent — of urban interstate being categorized as congested during peak travel times. On the flip side, the condition of Nevada’s urban interstates ranked 14th.
Additionally, the report found that administrative costs and total disbursements per mile are well above the national average.
Over the last three years, Nevada has also gained in lowering the number of accident fatalities, the report said.
In 2007 and 2008, the state ranked 40th and 41st, respectively. In 2009, its ranking climbed to 25th, though the state’s ratio of traffic deaths compared with data nationwide is still 5 percent above the national average, Hartgen said.
Meg Ragonese, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said the state’s roads equate to a $20 billion investment, not including another $2 billion for 1,116 bridges.
“We very, very carefully prioritize all of our projects,” to determine what’s needed to preserve the highway system, she said. Those efforts are broken down into four categories: preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, overlays and major rehabilitation.
“That’s going from the least expensive to the most,” Ragonese said.
Nevada currently has a backlog of more than $2 billion in projects needed to maintain roads in bridges in optimal or top notch condition, she added.