New Report Ranks 15 California Urban Areas as Having the Worst Roads in the U.S.

July 23, 2015

Poor Pavement Conditions Also Lead to High Car Maintenance and Repair Costs

Report Underscores Need for Legislature to Pass Accountable Funding Stream for Transportation During Special Legislative Session

SACRAMENTO — According to a new report released today, 15 of California’s urban centers have pavement conditions that rank among the nation’s most deteriorated. The same report found that the poor condition of California’s pothole-filled roads also puts California among the states with the highest in the nation costs for car maintenance.

TRIP, a national transportation group based in Washington D.C., issued a report today examining pavement conditions and associated vehicle operation costs nationwide. The report, Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother, can be found here. According to TRIP, poor roads cost the average California motorist $762 per year. But in some communities, such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area, the cost of poor roads is much higher, more than $1,000 per year in vehicle maintenance costs.

“Sadly, this report tells us nothing new. Every California driver knows our roads are filled with potholes and in poor repair,” said Jim Earp, Executive Consultant, California Alliance for Jobs. “Year after year nothing gets done to provide adequate funding to fix our roads. Thankfully Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special session of the Legislature this year to figure out how to provide ongoing, reliable, and accountable funding for major road improvements. Our industry will be very involved in letting legislators know this is a priority.”

California’s poor rankings year after year underscore the need for additional funding to repair state highways and local streets and roads. California’s roadway system, whether they be freeways, major urban thoroughfares, residential streets or rural streets, is interconnected. It all must be well-maintained in order for California to thrive. Today, too much of the network is in disrepair and the longer we wait to make repairs, the worse they will be come and the more expensive to fix.

Governor Brown has called a special session of the Legislature to address this topic. The backlog in California is significant:

  • Estimates are that local streets and roads face an estimated shortfall of $78 billion in deferred maintenance and an annual shortfall of $7.8 billion.
  • CalTrans faces a $59 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and an annual shortfall in the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) of $5.7 billion.

“In the Bay Area and Los Angeles the poor condition of the roads is costing drivers an extra $1000 a year in car maintenance and repairs,” said Chris McKenzie, Executive Director, League of California Cities. “Local streets and roads are the backbone of our transportation system. Cities and counties in fact maintain more than 80 percent of all the roadways within California. The special Legislative session called by Governor Brown to provide additional funding for road repairs is coming at a critical time. We need to start making a serious dent in the billions of dollars of needed repairs. City officials are looking forward to engaging with legislators when they return in August.”

“Every time this report is issued, California has the most number of urban centers on the list of poor roads in the nation,” said Matt Cate, Executive Director, California State Association of Counties. “The problem is tied directly to the fact that resources for road repair have been shifted and become more scarce. We need to address this problem and find additional and long term funding to begin tackling the billions of dollars in needed repairs. County supervisors are actively involved in the special legislative session this year, in the hopes that we get something done.”

According to the TRIP report, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

HIGHEST SHARE OF MAJOR ROADS AND HIGHWAYS WITH PAVEMENTS THAT ARE IN POOR CONDITION AND PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE (Source: TRIP Report, July 23, 2015)

Larger Metro Areas (500,000+ population)

San Francisco-Oakland

Nationwide Ranking: #1

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 74%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $1,044

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Orange County

Nationwide Ranking: #2

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 73%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $1,031

Concord

Nationwide Ranking: #3

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 62%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $924

San Jose

Nationwide Ranking: #8

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 53%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $844

San Diego

Nationwide Ranking: #9

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 51%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $843

Riverside/San Bernardino

Nationwide Ranking: #12

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 46%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $812

Sacramento

Nationwide Ranking: #20

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 42%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $767

Medium-Sized Metro Areas (250,000-500,000 population)

Temecula-Murrieta

Nationwide Ranking: #1

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 47%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $857

Antioch

Nationwide Ranking: #3

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 52%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $831

Santa Rosa

Nationwide Ranking: #5

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 49%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $811

Hemet

Nationwide Ranking: #7

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 36%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $758

Oxnard

Nationwide Ranking: #15

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 36%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $669

Victorville-Hesperia-Apple Valley

Nationwide Ranking: #16

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 32%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $664

Stockton

Nationwide Ranking: #18

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 34%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $657

Modesto

Nationwide Ranking: #19

Percent of Roads in Poor Condition: 30%

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Costs: $636