Worst Roads in America, Ranked (2021)

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5. Massachusetts

Massachusetts has 472 bridges and more than 1,194 miles of highway that the federal government considers in poor condition. On average, drivers pay $620 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.

According to our survey, the roads have too many potholes in Boston, Worcester, Lowell, Norwood and Walpole.

“The snow plows have done a number on our roads. Potholes and damage to the streets are a constant nuisance. Southbridge, or Massachusetts roads in general, seem to be in a never-ending loop of construction,” one resident said.

Why are Massachusetts roads so bad?

Many residents blame severe winter weather and snowplows for bumps and potholes. Others say the road conditions are better than they were a few years ago, but they’re generally ranked poorly due to:

  • Harsh winters and road salt
  • Poor maintenance and repairs
  • Uneven asphalt (tough on tires)

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#14. Illinois

– Pothole complaints: 7.8 for every 1,000 km of road Despite having the second-highest gas tax rate in the country, funds for which go toward infrastructure maintenance, Illinois just can’t seem to get a handle on its pothole problem. The director of public works for the city of Rockford, Illinois, told a local news outlet in February 2022, “It’s not uncommon during winter months to see anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 potholes patched on a monthly basis.” And that’s just one city among hundreds.

9. Michigan

Potholes are a significant concern across the Great Lakes State. “I hit so many potholes and bumps it’s unreal. Bent two of my car rims,” a Warren resident told us. In Canton, “they seem mostly just to patch them.”

Kalamazoo’s roads are “awful yet better than those in Battle Creek, which [are] the worst I’ve ever seen.”

“All the dirt roads have such bad potholes in them … you can’t even drive any faster than 5 miles an hour. If you’re going faster, you might wreck your car,” a resident in Leonard said.

43% of all public roadways in the U.S. are mediocre or poor.

Michigan’s infrastructure received a D-plus grade on its Infrastructure Report Card. There are 1,219 bridges and over 7,300 miles of highway in poor condition. On average, each driver pays $644 per year in costs due to driving on streets that need repairs.

Why are Michigan roads so bad?

Michigan’s roads are in poor condition because of potholes, poor road planning and seasonal disruptions, according to the state’s residents. Some attributed the poor road conditions to the government’s use of salt to melt winter ice on the roads, as well as:

  • Combination of heavy traffic and poor infrastructure
  • Lack of funding
  • Freeze-and-thaw cycles during winter months

5. California

It may have perfect weather, but California doesn’t have the perfect roads to match. There are 18.4 pothole complaints on Twitter for every 1,000 kilometers of Golden State roadway. As for its cities, San Francisco inspires the most grumbling, followed by Oakland.

San Francisco, CA

A 2016 study by AAA showed that more than 16 million drivers across the country were affected by potholes. Run the numbers and you’ll see that there’s a good chance many of them were in San Francisco. A Pothole Report of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission graded the Bay Area’s roads a 67 out of 100 possible points on the PCI (pavement condition index). That’s a narrow D- on the high schooler scale!

But SF isn’t the only West Coast city with a pothole problem. The state of California has several metropolitan areas—Los Angeles and San Diego, to name a few—that see a significant number of pothole repair cases every year. Report a pothole in the good ol’ Golden State online.

Each motorist spends $621, on average per year, on repairs 

The TRIP report revealed that individual drivers are spending $621 each on average per year in repairs, accelerated vehicle depreciation, increase fuel consumption and wear and tear on tires — totaling about $141 billion in overall cost.

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In 2019, the U.S. confronted a $786 billion backlog in needed roads and bridges improvements, according to a status report submitted to Congress by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act forecasts to provide $407 billion in funds for highway, bridge and transit investments over the next five years.

11% of AAA roadside help calls in winter, spring were tire-related

AAA received 1.8 million tire-related roadside assistance calls in the winter and spring of 2021, the organization said.

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Potholes are formed from moisture collected in cracks and crevices that expand and contract due to cool temperature fluctuation. 

The weight of passing vehicles breaks up the pavement, eventually creating a deep hole known for wreaking havoc mostly on tires, alignment, suspension and shocks.

Even though there’s no way to decipher if tire trouble is a result of potholes in some cases, 11% of calls during this time were tire related.

Honolulu, HI

Reports from AAA indicate that the average cost of

Reports from AAA indicate that the average cost of pothole-related vehicle repair in the United States is more than $300. If you live in Honolulu, there’s a good chance you can think of a million ways you’d rather spend $300!

Unfortunately, poor road conditions may demand that Honolulu drivers save their extra cash for car care. A study by TRIP, a non-profit that reports on U.S. roads, found that Honolulu drivers paid an average of $745 in car repairs related to poor road conditions—hundreds more than the national average. Go online to report a Honolulu pothole that needs repair.

3. New York

We doubt New Yorkers are surprised to see their home state in the top 10 — though some may be shocked it’s not first. New Yorkers lodge 20.5 pothole complaints on Twitter per 1,000 kilometers of road, and the state lays claim to two cities that generate enough complaints to put them in the top 10 for cities: New York City and Buffalo.

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#1. Rhode Island

– Pothole complaints: 23.4 for every 1,000 km of road Rhode Island has a lot to recommend it, but when it comes to potholes, the smallest geographic state takes the bituminous taco. One state senator likened driving around potholes to “playing MarioKart with an actual risk of crashing.” And residents feel the same way, with one referring to Rhode Island by the moniker “the Pothole State.” The Providence Journal recently tallied 13,000 potholes on just 17 roads since 2021. You may also like: ‘I Have a Dream’ and the rest of the greatest speeches of the 20th century

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