ROAD CONDITIONS: Calif. roads in rapid decline

Without additional funding, a quarter of streets and roads in California will be in “failed” condition in 10 years

Funding News League of California Cities and others March 06, 2013
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A new analysis of California’s local streets and roads network shows that pavement conditions across the state are in rapid decline. The 2012 California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment confirms that existing funding levels are not sufficient to address deteriorating roads, bridges, sidewalks, storm drains and traffic signs, and predicts that the cost to fix them could double if repair and maintenance are delayed due to a lack of new funding.


“It costs far less to repair and maintain roads than to replace them,” said Chris McKenzie, executive director, League of California Cities. “State and local governments, the Legislature and the people of California have a choice. We can either spend money now and make the repairs, or expect to pay a lot more in the future.”


The Needs Assessment, sponsored by the League of California Cities, California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and other transportation stakeholders, looks at the condition of the statewide system and provides a comprehensive funding overview. The new report shows a steady downward trend since the initial 2008 analysis, and projects that unless additional funding is established, a quarter of streets and roads in California will be in “failed” condition in just ten years.


A majority of California’s 58 counties were found to have pavement conditions that are considered “at risk,” and seven counties landed in the “poor” category. Cities and counties own 81% of the state’s roads, and the system encompasses bridges and safety and traffic components such as stop lights, traffic signs, storm drains, sidewalks and curbs and gutters.


According to Tom Mattson, public works director for Humboldt County and current President of the County Engineers Association of California, “Local streets and roads hold the state’s entire transportation network together. We must find new sources of funding to invest in our infrastructure or face the economic consequences of falling behind.”


The Needs Assessment shows that there is a significant funding shortfall to bring the system up to date. Just maintaining the status quo will require some investment, but experts say that still doesn’t resolve the issue that as California grows, its road system is in decline.


“Unless this crisis is addressed, costs to maintain the local system will only continue to grow, while the safety, quality and reliability of California’s local transportation network worsens,” said Matt Cate, executive director, California State Association of Counties. “California needs economic growth and jobs right now, and restoring our deteriorating transportation infrastructure will foster both.”


The full report can be downloaded at:

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