The study is the first comprehensive review of California’s local street and road system. It was commissioned by the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in conjunction with the County Engineers Association of California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. “The results show that California’s local streets and roads are on the edge of a cliff,” the authors state. “The conclusions that can be drawn from this study are inescapable. Given existing funding levels, California’s local streets and roads can be expected to deteriorate rapidly within the next 10 years.”
The primary concern is that funds will be siphoned from the Highway User Tax Account to solve the State’s own budget crisis. That account is funded by local fuel sales. California would need to invest at least $7 billion annually in new money for cities and counties over 10 years to prevent further deterioration. San Mateo County alone will have a funding shortfall of $62.4 million over the next 10 years for maintenance and repairs.
“California needs to re-organize its priorities,” Gordon said. “When we invest in our roads we invest in our people by creating jobs and putting people to work.” The study surveyed all of California’s 58 counties and 478 cities in 2007-08. On a scale of zero (failed) to 100 (excellent), San Mateo County’s average pavement condition index in the unincorporated areas was 68 – the same as the state average and within the “at-risk category,” meaning adequate maintenance is needed to avoid far more costly repairs and replacement later. “We should aim to be superior and not settle for average,” Gordon said. The full report can be found at http://www.savecaliforniastreets.org/
That study’s findings are reinforced by a 2009 report from The Road Information Program, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that studies highway transportation issues. It found that in 2007, 35 percent of major roads in California were rated in poor condition, the second-highest share in the nation, behind only New Jersey. Another 31 percent of the state’s major roads were rated in mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the state’s motorists nearly $600 per year in extra vehicle operating costs – a total of $13.5 billion statewide, according to The Road Information Program: http://www.tripnet.org/California_Mobility_Report_Dec_2009.pdf