Local roads, streets in sorry shape

California motorists in a traffic jam. (Photo: Shutterstock)

California’s 143,000 miles of local streets and roads are deteriorating rapidly, and the average local thoroughfare across the state is rated “at risk” because of its poor physical condition, according to a study commissioned by a coalition of local governments and their allies.

A mix of state, local and federal funds – about $1.98 billion annually – is provided for California’s streets and roads, but the minimal amount needed to maintain the existing quality is $3.5 billion, according to the study. To fix the roads to an optimum level of repair and maintenance would cost about $70 billion or more over the next 10 years, the report says.

Complaints about the poor state of California’s streets and roads have bedeviled state lawmakers for years.

The biennial report, released by a group called Save California Streets, is the latest in a series of studies that have tracked infrastructure conditions since 2008.

The study came out just weeks before the deadline for a special legislative session on providing money for road maintenance and construction. Gov. Brown called for the session on July 16, 2015, but lawmakers never convened. At the time, the governor noted that fuel excise taxes provided about $2.3 billion annually in funding, but that a shortfall for repairs of about $5.7 billion a year. The special session deadline is Nov. 30.

Save California Streets is led by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities, and an array of regional planning groups and engineers. The coalition has long urged for more money for streets and roads. Cities and counties are responsible for more than 80 percent of California’s road and street system. About 75 percent of all paved streets are in urban areas.

Complaints about the poor state of California’s streets and roads have bedeviled state lawmakers for years.

“Failure to invest would be disastrous – not only for local streets and roads but for California’s entire interrelated transportation system,” the report noted, calling for a stable and dedicated revenue stream for cost-effective maintenance of the local system in order to reverse this crisis.”

If investment is adequate, “only $2.5 billion a year will be needed to maintain the pavements after they reach a level at which they can be maintained with best management practices,” the report noted.

On a scale of 0 to 100, the condition of pavement had deteriorated to an average of 65, which the study described as “at risk.” Fifty-two of California’s 58 counties are either at risk or have poor pavements.

Ed’s Note: Corrects special session call in 3rd graf to July 16, 2015, instead of July 16 this year.




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