U.S. states with the best infrastructure: Georgia, Arizona, Virginia

by Pelican Press
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U.S. states with the best infrastructure: Georgia, Arizona, Virginia

With hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal infrastructure spending under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, companies are eager to cash in. And states are scrambling for their piece of the pie.

“We have funding that goes to projects that come from every state, city, airport authority or transit agency you can think of,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNBC.

That means some 54,000 projects — and counting — under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alone.

But Buttigieg said it is not just about who can win the most federal dollars. He said the nation learned the hard way following the pandemic about the need to keep supply chains moving, and what happens when they come under pressure.

“To me, it indicates just how much work there is to do in this country,” he said.

More coverage of the 2024 America’s Top States for Business

For this year’s CNBC annual competitiveness study, America’s Top States for Business, the Infrastructure category carries the most weight in the methodology because it is the most talked about factor in state economic development marketing.

To rate each state’s infrastructure, we look at roads, bridges, ports and airports. We also consider broadband connectivity, water utilities, and the power grid. We consider each state’s risk from climate disasters including wind, floods, and wildfires. We look at which states offer the most sites for development. New in 2024, we evaluate so-called site readiness programs set up in many states to link companies with shovel-ready sites.

Some states have a lot of work to do on their infrastructure. Other states are leading the way in this infrastructure revival. The following 10 states are America’s best.

9. (tie) New York

The sun sets on the skyline of midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building and Hudson Yards in New York City on February 17, 2024.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

Looking for prime office space in New York City? There has rarely been this much to choose from. According to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, the pandemic-led exodus from the city has only accelerated. The vacancy rate in Manhattan hit 16% in May, a level not seen in 30 years, and rents are dropping as a result.

But the Empire State is putting out the welcome mat in other, more positive ways. The state’s FAST NY Shovel-Ready Grant Program is among the most generously funded site readiness programs out there, offering up to $300 million in grants to prepare sites.

New York is also one of America’s best-connected states, according to BroadbandNow, with good access to fast, affordable service for under $60 per month. And the state’s revitalized airports are in heavy demand.

This being New York, though, more traditional types of infrastructure, such as water systems and roads, are under serious physical stress. And the 33 minute average commute is the longest in the nation, according to the Census Bureau. There are also serious questions about funding mass transit in metropolitan New York after Gov. Kathy Hochul nixed a congestion pricing program for vehicles in Manhattan just weeks before it was to take effect. The plan was supposed to provide $1 billion a year in mass transit funding.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 257 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A-)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 86,694,107

Roads in unacceptable condition: 27.3%

Bridges in poor condition: 9%

Affordable broadband access: 35.7%

Power outages per year: 3.4 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

9. (tie) Indiana

A CSX Corp. freight train crosses a bridge over the Ohio River into Clarksville, Indiana, U.S.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

They don’t call Indiana the Crossroads of America for nothing. Ideally situated with nearly 112-million people within a day’s drive, enormous quantities of goods pass through the state. Indiana’s railways alone carried nearly 300 million tons of freight in 2022, according to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Indiana also offers a wealth of places to set up shop. The Hoosier State leads the nation in the availability of retail space, according to data from the CoStar Group. Roads and bridges are solid, and the commute is a breeze.

However, the state lags in renewable energy, according to Department of Energy data. And with a new study showing that America’s “Tornado Alley” is shifting to the east, every property in Indiana is at risk of a major climate-related disaster, according to data from the nonprofit, nonpartisan First Street Foundation.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 257 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A-)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 111,671,980

Roads in unacceptable condition: 5.1%

Bridges in poor condition: 5.3%

Affordable broadband access: 31.4%

Power outages per year: 4.7 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

8. Alabama

First Solar manufacturing facility under construction in Trinity, Alabama, U.S.

Liam Kennedy | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Alabama is turning up the southern hospitality for companies looking to build there, and the increasing number of workers moving to the state. The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama offers one of the more robust site readiness programs in the nation. The organization says that since it launched AdvantageSite in 2008, developers of 55 projects have taken advantage of its certified sites, creating some 7,700 jobs.

Roads and bridges are in excellent shape in the Yellowhammer State. However, access by air is limited, and the state’s water utilities could use some work.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 258 out of 425 (Top States Grade: A-)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 80,004,611

Roads in unacceptable condition: 4.1%

Bridges in poor condition: 3.5%

Affordable broadband access: 46.3%

Power outages per year: 3.5 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

7. Tennessee

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Kruck20 | Istock | Getty Images

The Volunteer State is centrally located, within a day’s drive of more than 100-million people. Not that you need to leave the state to find success. The state has a well-developed, well-funded site certification program, with grants of up to $5 million available to turn vacant land into shovel-ready sites.

Roads, bridges, and broadband are also in excellent shape in Tennessee. But with less than 15% of the state’s energy coming from renewable sources, according to Energy Department data, the state could do better on sustainability.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 264 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 107,880,270

Roads in unacceptable condition: 9.3%

Bridges in poor condition: 4.4%

Affordable broadband access: 39%

Power outages per year: 6.7 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

6. Illinois

Metra train arriving from Chicago downtown district.

Rudybalasko | Istock | Getty Images

There have been lean years, but these days, Chicago — and the rest of Illinois — is embracing its cherished reputation as, in the words of the famous Illinois poet Carl Sandburg, “Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler.” Only Texas handles more, according to CNBC’s analysis of data from the Census Bureau and the Surface Transportation Board.

Traffic surged at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports last year, rising 8% and almost 11% respectively, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation, as the Land of Lincoln gets moving again.

This is not necessarily true, however, for those trying to move by car or by truck. Illinois’ 27.9 minute average commute is the eighth-longest in the nation. It doesn’t help that roads and bridges need work. Also, water utilities in the state face a $22 billion repair bill over the next 20 years, according to the EPA.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 265 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 90,678,272

Roads in unacceptable condition: 21.1%

Bridges in poor condition: 9.2%

Affordable broadband access: 31.4%

Power outages per year: 1.5 hours

Site readiness program: No 

5. Minnesota

Rebuilt 35w bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Jimkruger | E+ | Getty Images

When a bridge carrying Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River collapsed 17 years ago in Minneapolis, killing 13 people, Minnesotans came face to face with the state’s aging infrastructure, and they stepped up. The following year, the state launched a ten-year, $2.5 billion program to fix its bridges. Today, Minnesota’s roads and bridges are among the best in the nation. And the state is not resting on its laurels. In May, Gov. Tim Walz signed a $1.3 billion transportation budget that includes not just funding to maintain roads and bridges, but also money for public transit projects.

Minnesota’s Department of Economic Development says it has shovel-ready sites in 33 communities across the state.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 271 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 33,168,568

Roads in unacceptable condition: 5.1%

Bridges in poor condition: 4.3%

Affordable broadband access: 42.3%

Power outages per year: 4.5 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

4. Utah

Sweeping drone view from above of the busy streets and freeways in and around Salt Lake City.

Grandriver | Istock | Getty Images

The Utah Department of Transportation says that its mission is to “enhance quality of life through transportation.” Based on the statistics, life in the Beehive State is good. Utah’s roads and bridges are among the best maintained in the nation. Rush hour traffic buzzes along, with a 21.6 minute average commute. The challenge is to keep that momentum going.

The state is debating the specifics of a 17-mile expansion of Interstate 15 from Salt Lake City north to Farmington, now projected to cost $3.7 billion. Planners say the expansion is necessary to accommodate expected population growth of up to 40% by 2050.

Utah’s power grid is among the nation’s most reliable and broadband connectivity is excellent.

The state is offering 10 shovel-ready “mega sites,” with more than 28,000 acres available.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 272 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 31,975,255

Roads in unacceptable condition: 6.8%

Bridges in poor condition: 2.4%

Affordable broadband access: 35%

Power outages per year: 1.9 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

3. Virginia

A CloudHQ data center under construction on Waxpool Road in Ashburn, Virginia, US, on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Amazon.com Inc. plans to spend almost $150 billion in the coming 15 years on data centers, giving the cloud-computing giant the firepower to handle an expected explosion in demand for artificial intelligence applications and other digital services. 

Nathan Howard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

With 50 shovel-ready sites, and counting — and plans to spend $125 million on site readiness this year alone, according to the Site Selectors Guild — Virginia is trying to make it as easy as possible for companies to locate there. And once they arrive, they will have nearly unparalleled access to a large swath of population, more than 120 million people within a day’s drive.

Connecting virtually is a piece of cake, too. Broadband service is outstanding in a state long considered the hub of the internet, though affordability could be better.

Virginia’s massive computing power may be sapping the power grid, however. Reliability is a big issue. And the commute, especially in Northern Virginia, is among the slowest in the nation.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 273 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 121,292,474

Roads in unacceptable condition: 13.6%

Bridges in poor condition: 3.5%

Affordable broadband access: 33.3%

Power outages per year: 9.9 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

2. Arizona

The TSMC facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Caitlin O’Hara | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The massive expansion of the semiconductor industry in Arizona would not be possible were it not for the Grand Canyon State’s superior infrastructure.

Not only does the state have vast sites available for development, but it also has one of the nation’s most reliable power grids. A respectable 24% of the state’s power comes from renewable energy, putting it in the top half of states. And of course, Arizona is among the least susceptible to flooding.

The rapid growth in the middle of the desert is putting considerable strain on Arizona’s water utilities, however, with a 20-year repair bill of more than $12 billion.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 276 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A+)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 42,419,456

Roads in unacceptable condition: 13.4%

Bridges in poor condition: 1.1%

Affordable broadband access: 26%

Power outages per year: 1.4 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

1. Georgia

Passengers enter a security checkpoint before their flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Fourth of July holiday in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Georgia’s world-class infrastructure starts with the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, but it doesn’t end there. The state offers a wealth of land to develop, including more than 70 shovel-ready sites under the state’s certified sites program. There is also plenty of industrial and retail space.

Roads and bridges are in excellent shape, though anyone who drives in metro Atlanta will tell you that traffic can be brutal.

And, as Georgians recently learned after a series of water main breaks wreaked havoc in Atlanta in June, the state’s water infrastructure has some major issues. The EPA puts the cost of repairs over the next two decades at nearly $20 billion. It’s a rare weak spot in the state with America’s best infrastructure — for the second year in a row.

2024 Infrastructure Score: 285 out of 425 points (Top States Grade: A+)

U.S. population within 500 miles: 79,906,411

Roads in unacceptable condition: 5.6%

Bridges in poor condition: 1.6%

Affordable broadband access: 35.2%

Power outages per year: 4.4 hours

Site readiness program: Yes

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