The States With The Worst Infrastructure

By Kathy Morris
May. 24, 2021

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It doesn’t take a genius to see America’s infrastructure is defibrating.

In fact, about anyone who has been on a decent length road trip has seen- and – felt the holes, rivets, and otherwise insufficient road quality. However, there are less obvious infrastructure issues plaguing the country in addition to potholes.

This includes unsafe and unreliable water and bridges that have outlived their intended life span.

We analyzed the data to see which states are in most dire need of infrastructure repairs– and the states that are comparatively driving smooth.

States With Worst Infrastructure

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. West Virginia
  3. Maine
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Alaska
  6. New York
  7. Louisiana
  8. New Hampshire
  9. New Jersey
  10. Massachusetts

These 10 states have the furthest to go to get their infrastructure in shape. Keep reading to see how they earned their rusty medal of dishonor, and how we determined our rankings.

How We Determine This

To identify the states with the worst infrastructure, we ranked each state on 5 factors:

  • Roads in poor condition
  • Structurally deficient bridges
  • State highway spending per driver
  • Avg. travel time to work
  • Water quality

We first turned to the Federal Highway Administration’s report Highway Statistics for the percent of roads in poor condition and the percent of brides that are “structurally deficient.” The more subpar roads and bridges, the worse the state’s infrastructure.

From there, we turned to share of total government spending spent on roads, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of State Government Finances. The less spending, the worse for infrastructure.

We also incorporated the average travel time to work. Not only can this serve as a proxy for road use, overly long commutes can be a sign of insufficient infrastructure to support a community’s traffic needs.

Of course, infrastructure isn’t just roads and bridges. It also encompasses important resources such as water. To determine which states have a water infrusture crisis we turned to Clean Cool Water’s thorough rankings, which looks at data from accredited water assessment bodies, general geographic information, and relevant recent local water news in each state to judge the overall tap water quality.

1. Pennsylvania

pennsylvania class=

Roads in poor condition: 7.1%
Structurally deficient bridges: 17%
State highway spending per driver:$773

Pennsylvania may be the second state, but they are #1 when it comes to crumbling infrastructure. Pennsylvania is investing some serious dough into roads. However, 7% of roads remain deficient and 17% of bridges are flat out unacceptable. All of which makes the long, average daily commutes not only unpleasant but sometimes dangerous.

2. West Virginia

west virginia class=

Roads in poor condition: 4.8%
Structurally deficient bridges: 20%
State highway spending per driver:$910

West Virginia spends more on highways per driver than most states, leading to the least deficient roads in the top 10. However, they might want to redistribute some of that money to address the 1-in-5 West Virginia bridges that are structurally deficient.

3. Maine

maine class=

Roads in poor condition: 7.30%
Structurally deficient bridges: 13%
State highway spending per driver:$610

What are the main things that earned Maine their rusted medal of infrastructure dishonor? Substandard water and decaying bridges.

4. Rhode Island

rhode island class=

Roads in poor condition: 24.6%
Structurally deficient bridges: 23%
State highway spending per driver:$408

In 4th place is Rhode Island. The Garden State has the worst roads in the entire nation. 1-in-4 Rhode Island roads are deemed to be in poor condition according to the Federal Highway Administration.

5. Alaska

alaska class=

Roads in poor condition: 18.7%
Structurally deficient bridges: 10%
State highway spending per driver:$2,374

Alaska is big. And with that big size comes big infrastructure issues. Alaska’s roads are worse than every state but Rhode Island, with bridges and water quality not being much better.

5. New York

new york class=

Roads in poor condition: 13.4%
Structurally deficient bridges: 10%
State highway spending per driver:$366

New York only spends a paltry $366 on highways per driver. Considering New York roads experience bitter cold winters and other adverse conditions, this might explain why 13.4% of roads are just flat out not good enough.

7. Louisiana

louisiana class=

Roads in poor condition: 9.1%
Structurally deficient bridges: 13%
State highway spending per driver:$450

Louisiana is yet another state that needs some roadwork. Not only are 9.1% of roads in poor condition, 13% of bridges are structurally deficient. While B’s may get degrees, most people who use bridges rely on (and expect!) them not to crumble 100% of the time.

8. New Hampshire

new hampshire class=

Roads in poor condition: 4.8%
Structurally deficient bridges: 9%
State highway spending per driver:$422

In 8th place is New Hampshire, largely due to poor water quality. An upsetting 20% of New Hampshire private wells are estimated to have a worrisome amount of arsenic.

9. New Jersey

new jersey class=

Roads in poor condition: 16.8%
Structurally deficient bridges: 8%
State highway spending per driver:$516

New Jersey drivers have some of the longest commutes in the nation– and do it on some of the worst roads in the nation. In fact, a disappointing 16.8% of all New Jersey roads are in poor or worse condition.

10. Massachusetts

massachusetts class=

Roads in poor condition: 15.40%
Structurally deficient bridges: 9%
State highway spending per driver:$495

Massachusetts high water quality keeps it from being high on the list. However, as all the Massachusetts’ drivers making long commutes and dealing with Boston-sized potholes know, road quality matters; Unfortunately, the Bay State’s roads are just plain insufficient.

What Crumbling Roads Mean For The Job Market

Companies looking to relocate look to infrastructure that can support business operations. This includes roads, energy, technology, and a plethora of other categories.

States with deteriorating infrastructure may find themselves failing to attract business looking to relocate- or worse, businesses looking to leave their borders.

However, with so much work needing to be done, infrastructure could be a boon to blue collar workers and provide new job opportunities.

The States With The Worst Infrastructure

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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