Chart of the Day: State Transportation Spending Comps

Via Strong Towns, here’s a map that lets you compare state-by-state break-downs of how state agency transportation spending according to a few set categories. This shows the Minnesota breakdown of those categories, along with the state-by-state comparison for “new road capacity.”

The Minnesota-specific breakdown is on top; US state comparison map is on bottom.

The Minnesota-specific breakdown is on top; US state “new capacity” comparison map is on bottom.

The caveat is that this data is really tricky to come by, and it’s justifiable to treat these comparisons with some skepticism. For example, David Levinson points out that the distinction between “new proejcts” and “preservation” is vague. And Melissa Jamrock asked whether local spending is included. (I rather doubt it, because the logistics of such a thing would be mind-boggling.)

Here’s what Rachel Quedneau writes on the Strong Towns blog:

There are other gems in this data. Disappointingly, only three states in the entire country spend more than 4% of their transportation budgets on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Clocking in at a whopping 5% of state budget are Georgia, Tennessee and Oregon.

And the winner for biggest percentage of budget spent on “New Road Capacity”? That’s Arkansas at 54%. Has Arkansas recently experienced a massive increase in population that would merit such excessive road expansion funding? Nope. Now the tool doesn’t tell you this information, but it is an excellent starting place for further research and exploration.

According to this analysis, Minnesota is actually below it’s neighboring states when it comes to investing in new capacity (vs. maintenance or alternatives). I.e. Minnesota is at 6% while Wisconsin is at 30%.

That said, MnDOT is preparing a “ten-year service plan” right now, where they’ll decide how to prioritize spending between “capacity expansion”, “maintenance”, and other things like transit and walkability infrastructure. So this chart might change in the near future.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.