The present and future conditions of California roads are in question, according to a new report.
The California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Assessment found the average local street and road in California ranks 68 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI). Industry standards are based on a scale of zero, or failure, to 100, or excellent. Streets and roads statewide are in the “at risk” category, according to the PCI.
If state funding levels are maintained without any supplemental allocations, the pavement rating is projected to deteriorate to 58 in the next 10 years. With no additional funds, this rating will fall to 48 by 2033, one level above a “failed” rating.
Twenty-four counties, including Yolo County, have an average pavement condition that is below the state average and considered “at risk” or “poor.” Yolo County’s rating was 58 in 2008.
The Yolo County Planning and Public Works Department’s Assistant Director Panos Kokkas stressed the negative effects of poor road conditions at the Feb. 9 Yolo County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, where the report was reviewed.
“As roadway conditions decline, the cost to repair them increases exponentially,” Kokkas said. “More potholes, inability to trim trees, sign repairs, flooding and patching all result from these conditions.”
The report is the first in an ongoing study of local pavement conditions and essential infrastructure components. Currently, there is no comprehensive and systematic approach to the needs of local streets and roads statewide.
“Every trip – whether by car, bus or bicycle – starts and ends on a local street or road,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Helen M. Thomson in a press release. “The local system is critical for safety and mobility of the traveling public, farm to market needs and for trade and commerce. State leaders needs to prioritize this important role in the statewide transportation system in their budgeting decisions.”
Analysis included in the assessment found the current state-funding shortfall, considering all existing revenues for pavement and necessary components such as storm drains and gutters, is more than $71 billion for a 10-year period. Yolo County estimates its funding shortfall for streets and roads at $5 to $6 million per year.
In order to stop further deterioration of local roadways, at least $7 billion going directly to cities and counties is necessary annually over the next 10 years. Once pavement conditions reach the most cost-effective level with the least impact on mobility and commerce, costs will be much less long term.
Supervisor Mike McGowan believes the local assessments are good tools to inform people about the road condition situation, and Thomson was pleased with how the report was put together.
“Public transportation is in dire condition right now,” Thomson said at the meeting. “This is not good news, but it’s wonderful to have this kind of data to work state issues.”
John Bencomo, director of planning and public works for Yolo County, said the study gives counties leverage to receive local funding.
“This analysis is systematic,” Bencomo said at the meeting. “It discusses the failing infrastructure on a state level.”
Margo Yapp, professional engineer for Nichols Consulting Engineers, said Yolo’s roads, like other rural counties, were hit hard by increased construction costs without rising revenues. Also, though the county has many roads, it has a lower population than other areas. With a lower population, there is less money allocated to the county than to urban areas. Without taxes or measures in place for revenue, and an aging infrastructure, road conditions have deteriorated.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached email@example.com.