Another Sign of California Decline: Miles of Bad Road

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


 

September 24, 2010
For the past few years whenever having to venture out onto Los Angeles area roads, I return home complaining about how bad the roads are—except  for Santa Monica which seems to repave its roads even when it appears unnecessary. This week, now everyone knows how bad L.A. roads are. According to a report from The Road Information Program (TRIP), a national transportation research group, California has some of the worst roads in the country, with L.A. taking the #2 spot both for “pavement in poor condition” and “highest vehicle operating cost” (VOC) due to poor roads. San Jose was at the top of the list, and other California cities making the list were San Francisco-Oakland, Concord, San Diego, Indio-Palm Springs, Sacramento and Riverside-San Bernardino. The report looked at the top 20 urban regions (population 500,000+) with the greatest share of major roads and highways that had pavements in poor condition, and the top 20 urban regions where motorists pay the highest VOC because of roads in poor condition. The substandard road quality costs the average urban driver $402 each year in additional vehicle operating costs. While a number of factors have led to California’s subpar transportation corridors, unchecked population growth only exacerbates the situation. As Bert Sandman, executive director of Transportation California, said, “Despite the best efforts of Caltrans and local transportation agencies, it’s difficult to keep up with maintenance and rehabilitation, much less accommodate relentless traffic and population growth.” To put California’s growth in perspective, the state’s population in 1960 was 15.7 million; it seems likely we’ll top 40 million soon. That’s well more than a doubling of population in just 50 years. Even in the best of times (when the state isn’t staggering from budget crisis to budget crisis), how can infrastructure be effectively managed if there aren’t any limits to population growth?
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