How bad are Kansas highways? Among the jewels of accepted wisdom about the Gov. Sam Brownback administration is that, as Esquire’s Charles Pierce so gently phrased it, “Brownback would rather have people die on his state’s highways than admit, in the words of Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, that his entire fallacy is wrong.”
Slate was no kinder to Brownback than Esquire. In 2016, it headlined an article: “Kansas’ Insane Right-Wing Experiment Is About to Destroy Its Roads.”
Closer to home, the Kansas City Star headlined a 2015 article, “Kansas will pay the price for diverting money from highway fund, some lawmakers say.”
Those who expect these media and others to report a story published this week by Reason Magazine, “Kansas Ranks 2nd Overall in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness,” know little about the media. A quick Google search showed zero other publications citing the Reason study four days after its publication. This is Reason’s 23rd annual survey. It is not a fly by night sort of enterprise.
In fact, all ten of the states with a “very good” overall ranking lean Republican, Missouri included, which ranked ninth. All went for Trump in 2016. Only North Dakota had a better overall ranking than Kansas. According to Reason, Kansas performed among the top ten of all states in rural arterial pavement condition, rural Interstate pavement condition, and deficient bridges.
Despite all the talk of budget ruination, Kansas ranked 13th nationally in maintenance disbursements per mile and 18th in total disbursements per mile.
Blue states dominated the bottom ten in the performance and cost effectiveness of their highways. New York State, home to many of the journalists who have been launching long distance media mortars at Kansas, finished 45th, neighboring Connecticut 46th and New Jersey 50th.
It is possible that Kansas highways will not hold the #2 spot, but it is highly unlikely it will drop much further. If Kansas is to fall from the top 10, for the media’s sake it better go quick. Why write about Kansas at all if you cannot mock the “insane right-wing experiment?”