Without Increased Investment In Our Roadways, We are All In for a Bumpy Ride
If you are traveling this long holiday weekend, be prepared for a bumpy ride. California’s highways rank 47th in the nation, according to an annual report released today by the Reason Foundation. In fact, the Golden State has ranked in the bottom 10 every year since 2000.
That comes as no surprise. Back in March, we wrote a blog posting titled “A Jarring Fact: Our Local Streets and Roads are Quickly Deteriorating.” This piece focused on the 2012 California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment Study that concluded the majority of California counties have an average pavement condition rating that is considered “at risk.”
The Reason Foundation’s 20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems focuses on our state’s highways, which account for 9 percent of California roadways; our cities and counties maintain 81 percent. To put this in perspective, California cities and counties own and maintain more than 143,000 centerline-miles of local streets and roads, conservatively valued at more than $189 billion. State highways account for just over 18,000. And when you begin your 4th of July holiday journey, you will start and end it on a city street or county road.
Yes, our state highways are in poor condition and they carry the most traffic of any state, according to the recently released report. It’s sadly safe to say that our local streets and roads hold the same distinction. And with California’s population projected to increase by about 10 million during the next 15 years, this congestion is just going to get worse. More congestion equals more wear and tear on our roadways. Our state is already facing a funding shortfall of more than $82 billion over the next decade to bring our local roadway system up to date. The state highway system needs a similar increased investment over the same time period to bring it into good condition.
CSAC and other transportation advocates are working together on potential solutions. The California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup, comprised of transportation experts from throughout the state, will be identifying critical transportation infrastructure needs, prioritizing the most acute of those needs, and investigating streamlining and efficiency opportunities as well as funding options for meeting those needs. But there is a lot of work that needs to be done. CSAC supports numerous potential funding options because it is vital that we begin increasing the investment we are putting into our local transportation system.
That’s something to think about next time you hit a pothole.
David Liebler is the Director of Public Affairs and Member Services for the California State Association of Counties. He can be reached at dliebler.at.counties.org.
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