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California’s Precarious Pavement Condition Trending Downwards

Local Streets and Roads Projected to Deteriorate Faster in Next Five Years without More Funding

March 30, 2015
In recent months, the League engaged in numerous discussions with state and federal lawmakers about the condition of California’s local streets and roads.
 
These discussions are based on the most recent biennial Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment, which was released last October. This survey uses a four-tiered scale Pavement Condition Index (PCI) scale from zero to 100 to assess the conditions of local roads within California’s 58 counties. At first glance, the fact that the on-average rating for California’s local system is 66, just four points under what the study deems as good condition, does not appear to be alarming. The reality is that the local roads are on a precipice.Pavement-Condition-Curve.jpg
 
Why are local transportation experts so worried about an average pavement condition of 66? This number is significant because the cost of repairing roads that slip any farther grows exponentially. The local system in 2008 ranked 68 and in the six years following the first assessment conditions slowly dropped two points. Transportation experts warn, however, that pavement condition deteriorates much more rapidly after this point in the life cycle of pavement condition.
 
This illustration shows very plainly the costs to maintain roads (per square yard) over the course of this life cycle. When conditions dip much farther under current conditions, the cost to repair and maintain these roads dramatically increases. For example, roads with a PCI ranking between 70 and 50 cost $15-$20 per square yard to maintain, but the amount doubles to $30-$40 for road conditions with PCIs in a range of 50-25.
 
The 2014 Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment found that currently local agencies receive just half the revenue needed to maintain the local system. Investments must be made to the system that comprises more than 80 percent of California’s roadways because time is running out for the roads beneath our feet and wheels. 


 
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