February 1


There was a good article in Friday's STRIB summarizing the Met Council's position that we won't have any more significant highway projects in this region.  This isn't good news for highway designers and I'm not sure it's good news for me as a traffic engineer.  But, engineers (including me) are a conservative bunch.  I don't think you'll get many of us bashing the idea of spending tax money wisely.  However, I think most engineers like to make prudent investments in the future.

We know the Twin Cities is in the top 25 when it comes to congested regions (that hits the news cycle every year when the Texas Transportation Institute releases its annual study), but is that because of a lack of investment or is it due to a mismatch between infrastructure-homes-jobs?  To get at this, I decided to see where we stand compared to the other 49 states in the Union.  I was able to find population estimates from the Census Bureau and miles of road lanes from FHWA.  The most up to date data sets I could find for both were from 2007.

I divided the number of lane miles of major road (interstates, principal arterials, minor arterials, and collectors – eliminating local roads) by the number of people in the state.  I think this is a decent estimate for how much thoroughfare pavement is in the state per person.  The results are in the table below.  We rank 11th out of 50 on the list.  Based on this quick analysis (and I grant you it is simplistic), it seems Minnesota has enough pavement per person.  As transportation engineers and planners, the time has come to shift our focus to maximizing the benefit we can gain from the investment we've already made.  At least this is what the policy makers are telling us.

Lane Miles of Thoroughfare Road per Person
South Dakota 0.0689
Wyoming 0.0642
North Dakota 0.0608
Montana 0.0519
Nebraska  0.0348
Kansas 0.0337
Iowa 0.0305
Idaho 0.0218
Oklahoma 0.0214
Arkansas 0.0213
Minnesota  0.0187
Mississippi 0.0183
New Mexico 0.0180
Vermont 0.0166
Alaska 0.0165
West Virginia 0.0152
Alabama 0.0148
Oregon 0.0146
Missouri 0.0139
Wisconsin 0.0138
Maine 0.0137
Colorado 0.0123
Kentucky 0.0122
South Carolina 0.0121
Indiana   0.0111
Utah 0.0109
Tennessee 0.0108
Texas 0.0099
Georgia 0.0094
Michigan 0.0093
Louisiana 0.0092
Washington 0.0091
Nevada 0.0082
Virginia 0.0078
New Hampshire 0.0077
Ohio 0.0076
North Carolina 0.0075
Illinois 0.0071
Pennsylvania 0.0065
Arizona 0.0064
Delaware 0.0053
California 0.0046
New York 0.0045
Florida 0.0045
Connecticut 0.0045
Maryland 0.0045
Massachusetts 0.0043
Rhode Island 0.0042
New Jersey 0.0033
Hawaii 0.0032
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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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