Infrastructure & Environment

Study: Top 3 Big Cities with Worst Roads Are in California

The roads in greater Los Angeles are the most deteriorated in the United States, which costs Southern California drivers more than $800 a year, according to a national transportation analysis released Thursday.
October 4, 2013
 

The roads in greater Los Angeles are the most deteriorated in the United States, which costs Southern California drivers more than $800 a year, according to a national transportation analysis released Thursday.

Los Angeles-Santa Ana-Long Beach ranks first among cities with more than 500,000 residents for the percentage of roads in poor condition, according to TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that studies transportation data and issues. According to the study, about 64% of roads in greater Los Angeles are in poor condition.

Potholes and rough pavement cost local drivers about $832 a year, TRIP said. The estimate includes the cost of repairs, tune-ups and tires, as well as faster depreciation of vehicles. The average urban driver pays $377 annually, according to the study. The nationwide cost of driving on deteriorated roads was $80 billion.

The analysis was based on the Federal Highway Administration's 2011 data, the most recent available. The federal government catalogs, on a scale of 1 to 100, the condition of major state and locally maintained roads and highways in urban and rural areas. The index includes potholes, utility cuts and various types of cracks.

Overall, L.A.'s sprawling network of roads received a C-minus grade, and a quarter received an F, according to recent city data. City staff members are studying the possibilities of a borrowing program to fix what officials say is a $3-billion, 60-year backlog of repairs. The cost has doubled since 2005 and is expected to double again in the next decade.

City Council members Joe Buscaino and Mitchell Englander hope to include a proposal to issue city bonds for the work on the fall 2014 ballot. A two-thirds majority of voters would have to approve issuing the debt.

Nationally, more than a quarter of major urban highways and streets are in poor condition, according to federal data. The same roadways handle about 78% of the 2 trillion miles driven annually in urban America.

"Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the federal, state and local level, conditions will continue to deteriorate, drivers will continue to pay the price, and our economy will suffer," said Will Kempton, executive director of Transportation California, in a prepared statement.

The second- and third-worst urban road networks are also in California. About 60% of roads in Oakland and San Francisco are in poor condition, as are 56% of roads in San Jose.

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