Local Streets and Roads Report Outlines $78 Billion in Need
Average Road Conditions Continues to Decline
If all politics are local, there is nothing more local for elected officials to work on than potholes. The problem is, while potholes may be as local as you can get, two-thirds of the dollars set aside to fix them come from a variety of state and federal sources. So while the need to fix potholes, and maintain local streets, roads and bridges has continued to grow, the money to pay for those projects has shrunk due to inflation, a stagnating gas tax and to some degree, by the growth of alternative fueled vehicles whose drivers do not pay gas taxes even though they use the roads.
That’s the gist of the 2014 Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment. CSAC and the League of California Cities, along with our regional transportation planning partners, jointly released the report today. You can read more in this news release, and the full report is available here. The website also features an interactive map that lets users hover over their county to find the average condition of their pavement surfaces and other important information about the state of local streets and roads.
The average condition of local streets and roads, known as the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) stands at 66 out of 100. That is in the “at risk” category. Six-percent of our roads are in failing condition, and there is a backlog of about $78 billion dollars in deferred maintenance to local streets, roads and bridges. If we don’t change the way we pay for repairs and maintenance, that backlog will continue to grow, and by 2024, 25-percent of local streets and roads will be in failing condition.
The gas tax has not changed since 1994, and is woefully behind the increase in construction costs, inflation, and increased use of the system. Increasing that revenue source is one possible solution, but as we are seeing now, it is not sustainable in the long term. As more alternative fueled vehicles come on the roads, gas tax revenue will drop even more compared to vehicle miles-travelled. The solution is really a mix of new revenue streams, and CSAC is not advocating one over the other. The solution is mostly up to the Legislature and Governor.
The Local Street and Roads Needs Assessment is designed to do exactly what its name implies: detail the need, so policy makers can craft a solution that makes sense.