Editor's Report

By Loren Faulkner | September 28, 2010

The following is from California Transportation:

Sacramento, Calif. — Drivers in all California's major cities are feeling the pinch of heavy traffic — on the road and in their wallets. The state's rough pavements cost some Californians as much as $778 a year in additional wear and tear.

TRIP, a national transportation research group, found that California — despite some progress — still rules the bumpy roads. Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento made the top 10. Riverside-San Bernardino, Oxnard-Ventura and Fresno made the top 20 list of large urban regions (500,000+ population).

The big change this year in the Top 10 list is that San Jose fell from the top slot, for good reason. San Jose reduced its percentage of poorly rated roads from 66 percent to 60 percent in the last two years. Other California cities saw slight reductions, or held the line on deterioration.

Nonetheless, rough roads are still the norm in California urban areas. TRIP found that while a quarter of the nation's major metropolitan roads — interstates, freeways and other critical local routes — have pavements in poor condition, California cities on the top 10 list have 46 percent to 65 percent of pavements rated in poor condition.

These poor roads create additional vehicle operating costs (accelerated vehicle deterioration, additional maintenance needs and increased fuel consumption). In California's biggest urban areas, poor roads cost the average motorist more than $650 a year, and approximately $750 a year in the Los Angeles and the Bay Area. That compares with a $413 national average.

Four California urban areas ranked in the top five costliest: Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, San Jose and San Diego. Sacramento ranked eighth.

"The good news is California is making progress in improving freeways and urban roads, thanks to a serious commitment at all levels of government to address the problem," said Mark Watts, executive director of Transportation California, the state's leading education and advocacy group for transportation.

"The bad news is now that we've made a down payment on our infrastructure future, our funding again is threatened. The state budget crisis, a possible reduction in federal funding plus escalating construction costs will put a crimp in the buying power of California's imperiled transportation dollars," Watts said.

Roadway maintenance and rehabilitation typically are funded through motor fuel tax revenues. "Gas taxes — state and federal — are not keeping up with basic maintenance requirements," Watts said. "There is a real danger of lagging further behind."

Percentage Percentage Percentage Percentage Additional Vehicle Operating Costs
Poor Mediocre Fair Good
Los Angeles 65 26 6 3 778
San Francisco-Oakland 62 29 6 3 761
San Jose 60 29 7 5 746
San Diego 53 29 7 12 684
Sacramento 46 40 6 8 655
Riverside-San Bernardino 35 48 10 7 586
Oxnard-Ventura 35 42 15 8 571
Fresno 30 36 21 13 515

Percentage Percentage Percentage Percentage Additional Vehicle Operating Costs
Poor Mediocre Fair Good
Santa Rosa 48 37 9 7 668
Palm Springs 48 29 11 13 641
Stockton 41 30 12 16 588
Modesto 29 41 20 10 518
Lancaster-Palmdale 13 34 27 26 345
Bakersfield 5 41 31 23 294