This is the kind of study that might make a Montanan laugh out loud.

There are a few topics that Montanans will complain about.

  • They'll complain about the weather-- that it's either too hot, too cold, too snowy, too smoky etc.
  • They'll complain about the tourists/transplants
  • They'll complain about taxes

And Montanans will complain about the roads, which is worth complaining about because of weather, traffic from tourists/transplants, and taxes. So the idea that Montana could be among the top 10 states in the country for having the highest quality roads, at a minimum, might raise a few eyebrows.

The Best Road to Drive On: Where Montana Ranks

Using data from 2011 to 2020 the researchers at Mulney Law studied what are called "acceptable road miles" that are collected by the Bureau of Transportation. According to this study, an average of 89.6% of Montana's roads are acceptable.

Having a percentage that high puts Montana as the 9th best state in the country for roads. (I feel like this where we have to say, "Cue laughter.")

Potholes, roads that wash out, the occasional sinkhole, endless construction, bridges in need of updating--these are the kinds of things we all see when driving that would make a Montanan question data like this.

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But let's put this in perspective. This is very likely referring to highways and interstates, though the Bureau of Transportation just says "public roads" in its data. When I think of roads that are in disrepair, it's usually roads in the city limits. In Missoula, at least, the city will repair the potholes if you let them know. 

Idaho was ranked as the state with the highest percentage of acceptable roads. This makes sense to me. Driving from Montana into Idaho I have felt my car go from rattling and bumping along to sailing serenely over the pavement the moment I crossed the state line. Maybe the data isn't that far from the lived experience after all, at least for that state.

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