LAYTON -- The 2010 construction season is still winding down, but Utah's state highway system already has received its final grade.
Utah ranks 22nd in the nation in state highway performance and cost-effectiveness, according to the 19th Annual Highway Report of nonprofit think tank The Reason Foundation.
The study, by David T. Hartgen, emeritus professor of transportation studies at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, ranks each state's interstate highways and state-controlled roads in 11 categories, including costs per mile, congestion, pavement condition, deficient bridges and fatalities.
Utah ranks 35th in total highway construction dollars spent, 15th in fatalities and 21st in urban interstate congestion, according to the study.
Utah scored its best marks in functional and efficient bridges, ranking seventh overall.
"We're seeing several factors combine to produce significant improvement in highway conditions," Hartgen said. "Over the last several years, states invested a lot more money to improve pavement and bridges."
In 2010 alone, the Utah Department of Transportation has invested in several new bridges and bridge improvements, many of them in the Top of Utah.
"We've added a lot of new bridges due to new construction," said UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders, "but we've also replaced a lot of the old bridges."
In August, as part of the $97 million south Layton interchange project, UDOT crews set up the centerpiece of the project -- a bridge that will connect the Layton Parkway with Fort Lane on the east side of I-15 and with Flint Street on the west side of the freight and commuter railroad corridor running through Layton.
"The Layton interchange project is an example of us investing in the best technologies for our new bridges," Saunders said.
UDOT also replaced the U.S. 89 bridge over I-15 in North Salt Lake, as well as bridges at Beck Street, 1000 North and 800 North, as part of the $125 million ExpressLink project in southern Davis County.
In West Haven, UDOT spent $21 million to build a bridge that extends Hinckley Drive nearly a mile from its previous ending point at 1900 West to a new connection at 3600 S. Midland Drive.
North Dakota, Montana, Kansas, New Mexico and Nebraska are the top five states for overall highway cost-efficiency and performance, according to the survey, while New York, Hawaii, California, Alaska and Rhode Island round out the bottom five.