The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar US states are to each other. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on infrastructure. 10% of a state’s technology score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) is based on the state’s logistical infrastructure. Railroad tonnage, port tonnage, energy pipelines, and semi-truck traffic were included in the calculation.
Although the United States does not have a well developed passenger railroad network, it does have a significant amount of railroad infrastructure to transport goods. Wyoming transports the most tonnage per capita via freight trains. Although its population is low, it produces a huge amount of coal that is shipped to other states by the railroad. However, on the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii does not even have a railroad that transports freight. Since it is a group of islands, most of its goods are transported by boat instead.
States were categorized by tons of freight transported each year per capita:
0-5, 5-10, 10-20, 20-40, 40-80, over 80
Another common way to ship goods is by boat. Some states have far more port infrastructure than others. Louisiana ships the most tonnage per capita than any other state. New Orleans is one of the nation’s biggest ports, since it is located close to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Furthermore, Louisiana has a dense concentration of oil refineries. As a result, much of the country’s energy supply is shipped through its ports. Although many states that are landlocked have no ports, a few still have navigable rivers where they ship goods. Since West Virginia ships a lot of its goods down the Ohio River, it also has significant port infrastructure.
States were categorized by tons of goods transported each year per capita:
0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-30, 30-60, 60-120
Not only does Louisiana have a lot of port infrastructure, it also has a lot of pipelines transporting both oil and natural gas as well. The state has a dense concentration of oil refineries. Louisiana is also the state with the 3rd most natural gas production and reserves. The state has the most active natural gas market center in North America, where nine interstate and three intrastate pipelines are connected together. Mississippi and Texas, two neighboring states also have a relatively dense concentration of pipeline.
States were categorized by the amount of pipeline per sq. mile:
0-0.05, 0.05-0.1, 0.1-0.15, 0.15-0.3, 0.3-0.6, 0.6-1.2
Another widely used method of transporting goods in the United States is by semi-truck. Illinois and Indiana are hubs for transportation of manufactured products, since there are many factories. Therefore, a high percentage of the vehicles on their highways are semi-trucks. However, there are a few states where semi-trucks are not seen as often on highways. Hawaii and Alaska are two states where a relatively low share of vehicles are trucks. Both have a lot of coastline and do not border any other US states. There are relatively few goods transported within these states as well.
States were categorized by percentage of vehicles on their highways that are semi-trucks:
0-5.8, 5.8-11.6, 11.6-17.4, 17.4-22.2, 22.2-27, 27-31.8