TOPEKA — Kansas has the nation’s second-best and most cost-effective highway system, according to a new report by a libertarian research group.
The Reason Foundation listed Kansas second only to North Dakota on its annual highway report, which is based on 11 factors including spending, pavement conditions and highway deaths.
The rankings are largely based on information the state sent to the federal government that reflects spending and conditions from 2008 and 2009.
Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana round out the Reason Foundation’s top five. Alaska is in last place, behind Rhode Island, Hawaii, California and New Jersey. (See the full study here: http://reason.org/files/20th_annual_highway_report.pdf.)
The study results follow a move by lawmakers this year to merge management of the Kansas Turnpike Authority into the Kansas Department of Transportation, a move some lawmakers from both parties warned could hamper the historically well-run turnpike. It also follows the 2010 sales tax increase that channels four-tenths of a cent toward long-term highway improvements.
The nonprofit foundation, which lists David Koch among its trustees, says the 10,607 miles under the state of Kansas’ control have moved up one notch since the last two highway reports.
Kansas didn’t rank No. 1 in any single category, but it did well in almost all of them, the report shows.
“There was only one area in which it did not best the U.S. average: Its fatality rate was 15 percent higher than the national rate,” the study says. “And Kansas was able to achieve this performance in spite of spending 24 percent less than the U.S. average per-mile spending.”